There are real anxieties facing the prospective expatriate. Concerns over whether the family will settle, what the education system will be like and, most of all, what happens in the event of illness, are the major worries.
Despite all these anxieties, globalisation has meant that companies are now operating across international boundaries and, therefore, more and more people are moving from one country to another. Also, since state-run medical systems are either not available abroad or can no longer match the demand or keep up with the increasing cost of healthcare services, people are increasingly responsible for their own healthcare. All these factors have contributed to an increasing demand for comprehensive private medical insurance.
Currently in the UK market, most healthcare plans do not cover chronic conditions as the risk is transferred to the National Health Service. But this type of service is not generally available in other countries, particularly to foreigners. Therefore, to send an expatriate abroad with a plan which excludes chronic conditions is to leave them exposed.
In an effort to bridge this gap, international health insurers have begun to take the necessary steps to include the covering of chronic conditions in their policies. Bupa International, which has dominated the international health insurance market, has recently announced that it will make this option available to its customers in the first quarter of 2001. On the other hand PPP healthcare, already covering chronic conditions in some corporate schemes, has indicated that it will be reviewing the needs of the international market place.
Chronic conditions include low back pain, asthma, allergies, chronic bronchitis, dermatitis, high blood pressure (hypertension), common arthritis (osteoarthritis), diabetes and epilepsy and are typically the very conditions which will cause a person to seek treatment. Therefore, it is vital that those working abroad have this included in their policy.