Global health insurance provider Aetna buys Bupa Thailand

global health insurance provider Aetna acquires Bupa Thailand

At the end of July, leading global health insurance provider Aetna Inc. announced that it had acquired UK-based Bupa Group’s Thai business, Bupa Thailand, for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition allows Aetna to significantly increase its presence in the Asia region, and is key to their strategy to go ‘broader and deeper’ into local healthcare markets around the world. Shortly after the acquisition was announced, Aetna also outlined the launch of its new service approach for large organizations with over 1,500 staff overseas.

Read on to learn more about Aetna’s acquisition of Bupa Thailand, and to find out about the global health insurance provider’s new service approach for international corporations.

About Aetna’s acquisition of Bupa Thailand

Aetna’s latest acquisition strategically combines the strengths and deep reach of both insurance companies to provide enhanced offerings to health insurance customers in Thailand. Bupa Thailand’s in-depth knowledge of the Thai healthcare market, system and culture, coupled with Aetna’s vast product portfolio and global health insurance expertise, will ultimately result in broader insurance product offerings in Thailand, as well as build on Bupa Thailand’s exceptional service.

“This is a significant and exciting expansion for Aetna in Asia, and clearly demonstrates our commitment to investment and growth in the region and globally”, commented Richard di Benedetto, President of US-headquartered Aetna International. “Thailand is an important market for us, with increasing local wealth driving greater adoption of health insurance.  Aetna’s wide product portfolio, together with an excellent talent and knowledge base transferring from Bupa, will put us in a very strong position in the local market.”

Established more than 30 years ago, Bupa is one of Thailand’s top health insurance providers, with over 300,000 members and a network of over 400 medical providers in the region. For a short period of time, Bupa Thailand will continue operating under the Bupa brand name before rebranding as Aetna.

Thailand: A lucrative market for global health insurance providers

As one of Asia’s most lucrative markets, Thailand continues to attract the attention of world leading global health insurance providers, many of whom are keen on establishing and growing their presence in the region. One key reason for this is continual economic growth in Thailand, which has resulted in a wealthier population.

According to our Cost of International Health Insurance – 2017 report, it is anticipated that the middle class population in Thailand will exceed 200 million by 2020. Not only are we witnessing a growing middle class, but the number of High Net Worth (HNW) individuals is also increasing. For example, the number of HNW in the region increased from 49,800 in 2009 to 95,700 in 2015. This increase in wealth has led to a growth in demand for both local and global health insurance products in Thailand.

Aetna’s new service approach for international corporations

Shortly after announcing its latest acquisition in Thailand, global health insurance provider Aetna also outlined the details of its new service approach for international corporations with over 1,500 staff overseas. Following detailed health insurance broker consultations, the company has developed a fully flexible solution designed to meet the corporate insurance needs of large companies with international operations.

Damian Lenihan, Executive Director of UK Distribution at Aetna International, outlined the new service approach in this article by Health Insurance & Protection Daily. According to Lenihan, the proposition consists of the following four main pillars:

Member support

By focusing on member needs, employer-provided health insurance policies should cover both core benefits (like inpatient and outpatient treatment), as well as additional health and wellness benefits (like dental insurance), as per customer requirements.

Service delivery

Everything from language needs to claims processing requirements should be tailored around member specifications. Aetna will also be able to provide solutions to clients looking to self-insure.

Full program transparency

“Granular analytical data and bespoke management reporting” are instrumental in helping employers understand their group policy’s medical costs, and where savings are made.

Partnership approach

By adopting a partnership approach, Aetna focuses on providing clients with a fully resourced and responsive team, who are able to deal with and handle every eventuality.

Pacific Prime: Your global health insurance specialist

With almost two decades of experience advising and matching clients with the best global health insurance solutions, Pacific Prime has developed longstanding partnerships with the world’s largest and most reputable insurers, including Aetna, Bupa, Liberty Insurance, Cigna, MSIG, and many more. As we are not beholden to one particular insurer, you can rest assured that we will find you a local, regional, or global health insurance plan that provides the best value for your specific needs and budget requirements.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about your insurance options, be sure to get in touch with one of our helpful advisors today. Those looking for further information on corporate insurance solutions can also check out our new online resource for corporate clients here.

Cyber attacks vs natural disasters: Which cost more?

cyber attacks

It’s a sad thing to say, but there have been a plethora of storms happening recently. At the time of this article’s writing, much of Houston, Texas is underwater. Hurricane Harvey barreled down upon the city, dumping over 11 trillion gallons of water on the area and causing widespread flooding that has devastated the local community. We at Pacific Prime certainly wish Houston a speedy recovery from Hurricane Harvey, but as insurance professionals, we know that once a modicum of normality is restored to Houston and the surrounding area, insurance companies are going to be counting their losses and comparing this disaster to those in history. To be sure, hurricanes and typhoons are incredibly destructive and costly occurrences, but a new report from Lloyd’s puts these massive natural disasters on par with a danger that is not as much in the forefront of the average person’s mind: cyber attacks. Here, we discuss the report’s findings and examine the potential magnitude of large scale cyber attacks with regards to potential financial losses.

Superstorms cause super losses

In Pacific Prime’s headquarters city of Hong Kong, there were recently two separate typhoons in a single week. The first of which, Typhoon Hato, has been estimated to have caused about USD1 billion in damages. Being a city that is strongly constructed out of steel and concrete, this is actually not nearly as high a figure as it could have been, even though Hato was one of the strongest storms in Hong Kong’s recorded history. Hato’s damage to Macau, which was substantially more affected by the storm, remain unclear at this point.

Unlike Hong Kong, the homes in Houston, which are generally constructed from wood and other materials that are lighter than what is usually found in a Hong Kong skyscraper, are less able to resist the forces of a large storm. Couple this with the flooding that occurred and the fact that so many more homes are on ground level, and you have a recipe for major damage to property and financial loss. Of course US insurers are highly concerned with how much Hurricane Harvey will cost them in the end. Preliminary reports suggest that losses may come in at around the same amount incurred following landfall of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which ended up being the United State’s most costly natural disaster in recorded history.

Hurricane Katrina was a somewhat similar situation to what is happening in Houston, as a powerful storm resulted in the flooding of New Orleans, Louisiana and surrounding areas. The damage caused by Katrina was to the tune of USD108 billion! As high as this number seems, it is very possible that Hurricane Harvey will create a similar loss figure.

A digital perfect storm?

Considering that all of the above mentioned losses come from huge natural disasters that affect millions of lives in a single go, it might be hard to believe that a single cyber attack could possibly result in as much damage (monetarily, at least). So if this Lloyd’s analysis is true, how exactly would a cyber attack go about doing as much damage as Hurricane Harvey has done to Houston? Lloyd’s wanted to get the point across that cyber crimes, while they may not get the attention in the media that natural disasters do, can affect people and businesses on a very large scale.

As Lloyd’s reports, a hack which takes down a single cloud service provider could see cumulative losses up to USD121 billion, while a virus affecting computer operating systems for many global businesses could come with a USD28.7 billion price tag. What’s more, while Cyber Insurance is gaining popularity around the world, in the event that such a cyber attack were to happen, a large majority of those affected would have zero insurance coverage. So, depending on the degree to which a business is affected, a large loss due to a cyber attack could be back breaking. Even if money lost to hackers is not a major worry, the damage that can be done to a company’s image or reputation can be irreparable. This is because clients and partners can begin to question the security a company has in place, and may think that they are exposing themselves to too much risk.

From an insurer’s point of view, cyber attacks can be just as much of a headache as a natural disaster merely due to the logistics of addressing claims related to large scale attacks. The more people that are affected, the more claims that are made, the more manpower that must be put forth by insurance company staff. Beyond reimbursing damages to policyholders, this is an additional costs that insurers must consider. Of course, not having to send out agents to assess physical damage is certainly a savings for insurers servicing Cyber Insurance policies versus property insurance policies.

Cyber attacks case in point

One need not search too far back in history to find a cyber attack that caused huge losses for businesses and individuals around the world. As recently as May of 2017, a widespread ransomware known as WannaCry began infesting the systems of Windows operating system users around the world. Exploiting a security flaw that had already been known and addressed by many through Windows updates, the virus made its way into unprotected computers and held all the data on them for ransom. If users did not pay the amount stipulated by the software, it would erase all data on an infected computer.

This ransomware attack alone resulted in a total global loss of approximately USD4 billion.

Preventing damage with Cyber Insurance

Much like no amount of Home Insurance can stop a hurricane from wreaking havoc upon a person’s belongings, Cyber Insurance is not a fail safe against being hacked, having computer systems become infected with a virus, or data loss or theft. Ensuring computer systems and data security is something that every business needs to work closely on with their IT team. However, where Home Insurance can repair or replace damage to one’s belongings, Cyber Insurance can go a long way towards protecting a business and ensuring that it weathers the proverbial ‘storm’ of cyber attacks.

Cyber Insurance provides policyholders with different levels of protection. First off, liability for the loss of others’ data is addressed with payouts up to maximum amount, so the insured will likely be protected from all litigation as long as their maximums are set to an appropriate level.

Another way in which Cyber Insurance can provide protection is by making up for the lost revenue that may occur due to a stoppage of business. If, for instance, a cyber attack caused lengthy downtime while computer systems are rebuilt, Cyber Insurance can help to pay for overhead costs that may become burdensome on a business without a continuous flow of income coming in.

Additionally, Cyber Insurance will address costs related to actually restoring computer systems and lost electronic data.

Finally, many will no doubt want to attempt to catch the individual(s) responsible for hurting their business, so Cyber Insurance can provide benefits to go toward investigation of cyber attacks in the hopes of identifying perpetrators and bringing them to justice.

Of course, like cyber attacks themselves, Cyber Insurance is changing and evolving all the time. For more information on Cyber Insurance, contact the knowledgeable insurance professionals at Pacific Prime today! They can answer all of your questions and get your started on the path towards peace of mind both personally and professionally.

Pacific Prime launches new corporate section for global businesses

corporate section

Never ones to rest on our laurels, Pacific Prime Insurance Brokers is proud to announce the launch of a new section on our website, PacificPrime.com! The new corporate section is an enhanced one-stop shop for all business insurance needs! If your company has any questions related to group health insurance, international health insurance or any other related topic, be sure to check out this new section, the homepage of which can be found here.

So what’s on offer? Let’s find out:

Insurance solutions

What kind of group health insurance coverages are out there? In the insurance solutions portion of the corporate section, find out about the various facets of group health insurance plans and why you might want to consider each for your employees. Medical insurance does not just mean coverage for medicine, hospital stays and surgeries. There are a number of other benefits that you can consider. This includes dental, vision, wellness, maternity, disability and life insurances, and more!

Outside of these above solutions that will address the needs of your employees, Pacific Prime also provides in this section information about some of the business-specific benefits that every company should know about, including:

  • Property insurance
  • Liability insurances
  • Group travel and accident insurance
  • Professional indemnity insurance
  • Business interruption insurance

With information on comprehensive medical and corporate insurance solutions, this page is a great place to start when searching for group and corporate insurance information.

Our approach

Lots of companies sell insurance for businesses and other organizations. Where Pacific Prime really shines, however, is in our methodology. With over 17 years of insurance broking experience, we now have the various processes that our members use down pat. Not only in assisting with making claims, but also when going through other planning and analysis. Not only do we provide policy broking service, but also consulting and plan administration, which you may not get with other brokers.

Even our closest competitors cannot match the technological advantages that Pacific Prime provides, including:

  • Census and premium management/accounting tools
  • A claims management tool
  • A document management platform

These in-house systems are all yours to take advantage of at zero additional costs versus going with an insurance company directly.  Check the ‘Our approach’ page to start to find out about why Pacific Prime will be your preferred choice.

Partners

As a corporate insurance broker, everything that we offer is one consideration, but it’s still only one piece of the equation where your insurance needs are concerned. We work with a good number of the world’s best global insurance companies, as well as the most highly regarded local insurers in the countries where our offices are located. Our ‘Partners’ section is the place where corporate members can go to find out more about our relationships with insurers.

Beyond the insurers we work with, you can also find out about some of the prestigious members that have made Pacific Prime their choice for group health and corporate insurance benefits. Learn some of the industries that we have the most experience with, such as professional service firms and schools. Then dig a little deeper to find out how our experience translates to advantages for our members when it comes to negotiating plans with insurers at renewal time or analyzing claims data.

Corporate section resources

The last part of the corporate section to mention is our resources page. Here, for corporate members that like to stay up to date on the latest in international insurance data, Pacific Prime regularly publishes reports related to various important industry trends including the cost of health insurance, international medical insurance inflation, and industry trends. Want to know how insurance in the countries in which your organization operates compares to policies found in other areas? Look no further!

Purchasing corporate insurance is no small decision. Pacific Prime recognizes this and wants to make sure that you are delivered the plan which best fits your needs, at a value that fits your budget. We have created the new corporate section to give a great introduction to what we can offer you, but there really is no better way to figure that out today than to contact us! Do so now and get advice directly from one of our insurance advisors. They can provide you with a plan comparison and free quote.

Health insurance claims: Should you submit them on your own?

health insurance claims

Have you ever had to make health insurance claims on your own? If so, then you likely know how much of a hassle the process of being reimbursed by your insurer can be. If not, then you have a great opportunity to learn about making health insurance claims by checking out Pacific Prime’s new infographic!

‘The Claim Train’ infographic and your health insurance claims

When it comes time to make a claim with your insurance company, in the absence of direct billing you basically have two options for being reimbursed for medical expenses. The first of these is to handle the claim on your own, which will leave you to deal with the insurance company on your own. The other option is to utilize an insurance broker like Pacific Prime. Using a broker has numerous possible benefits that you can find out more about by reading the infographic. In the end, the goal of the infographic is to express the differences among these two claims processes and allow the reader to decide for themselves which method for processing a claim is right for them.

Click here to read ‘The Claim Train’ infographic!

About Pacific Prime Guides

Home to our various infographics, guides and reports, PacificPrime.com’s Guides section is your home for insurance information made for a number of different audiences, be it our members, un-insured individuals, corporations, human resources managers or insurance industry professionals. This section has a little something for everyone:

  • For those new to the ins and outs of insurance, our infographics are great places to learn the basics in a visually appealing way that will aid in achieving full comprehension of important insurance terms and features.
  • Pacific Prime publishes annual reports that are read by insurance professionals around the globe on topics relevant to the international insurance market. These include the Cost of Health Insurance Report, the International Private Medical Insurance Inflation Report, and the Medical Insurance Trends report.
  • Our various regional websites also have guides that are specific to each location. These guides provide solid background information for consumers on topics including maternity insurance, IVF treatment, public and private hospitals, and top-up insurance.

Click here to visit our Prime Guides page!

Or click below for guides for you specific country:
China
Hong Kong
Singapore

Pacific Prime joins Worldwide Broker Network

cyber attacks

HONG KONG – Leading insurance intermediary Pacific Prime has just been announced as the newest Asia Pacific Region member of the Worldwide Broker Network ™ (WBN), a global network of commercial insurance brokers and employee benefits consultants.

Connecting with more than 100 firms across six continents, Pacific Prime is now in a better position than ever to support its clients with the same high standard of customer service it delivers now. Becoming a Worldwide Broker Network member gives the Hong Kong-based intermediary access to a much wider network of leading brokers than before, which will help to support Pacific Prime in providing client-centric solutions.

“Ultimately, it’s about expanding our reach and services for the good of our clients.” says Pacific Prime CEO, Neil Raymond. From its beginnings in Hong Kong, Raymond has grown the company to include 400 staff across seven offices.  “The privilege of joining such a comprehensive organization of brokers is one that supports our client-centric focus and we look forward to offering the WBN our 17 years’ experience in the Asia Pacific region.”

WBN Chief Executive, Francie Starnes, has welcomed Pacific Prime’s membership. “Pacific Prime is bolstering the representation of WBN in the Asia region, which is a critical and growing market for our network. We welcome this expansion of client based services to our members, and look forward to adding Pacific Prime’s expertise to the expansive network.”

The WBN boasts local knowledge and experience through its global network, made up exclusively of top quartile firms that are independently owned and managed. It encourages cross-border collaboration and operates under a member-to-member accountability model that promotes quality service whilst still maintaining the independence of its member firms.

Global Director of Corporate Accounts at Pacific Prime, Pierre de Mirman, will be the primary contact for all Employee Benefits and Property & Casualty opportunities. Working with the WBN to meet membership standards, de Mirman says his team are keen to utilize the benefits of the Network to widen Pacific Prime’s insurance solution capabilities for its corporate clients.

About Pacific Prime

Pacific Prime was founded in 1999 by Neil Raymond as an expert P&C and Employee Benefits consultancy. Headquartered in Hong Kong, the company operates from a number of licenses in many countries around Asia and the Middle East, serving more than 500,000 clients with its over 60 insurer relationships.

Website: https://www.pacificprime.com/

About the Worldwide Broker Network ™

Founded in 1989, Worldwide Broker Network has grown from nine member firms in Western Europe to more than 100 firms spanning the globe and serving clients through 500+ offices in six continents. Today, as an important part of the insurance industry’s distribution network, WBN generates over $5 billion in P&C and Employee Benefits revenue annually.

Website: https://wbnglobal.com/

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Pacific Prime Wins Bupa 2016 Innovative Excellence Award

The Pacific Prime China team at Bupa's award showcase

(Hong Kong, March 6, 2017) Pacific Prime is proud to announce that leading insurance provider Bupa Global has awarded Pacific Prime with the Bupa 2016 Innovative Excellence award at the 2017 Bupa Global Greater China Distributor and Partner Conference.

The Bupa 2016 Innovative Excellence award was presented to Pacific Prime in recognition of their latest achievement as the brokerage that displayed the most innovative sales and marketing strategy in the Asia region in 2016.

Neil Raymond, Managing Director at Pacific Prime, commented: “We are honored to receive such prestigious industry recognition, as meeting the needs of our clients and the industry are integral to everything that we do. By leveraging our 17 years’ experience in the industry, the innovative solutions that we provide to individual and corporate clients are at the forefront of the insurance industry.” 

The Bupa award for innovative excelence awarded to Pacific PrimeThis prestigious award took into account Pacific Prime’s bespoke approach to delivering an outstanding customer service experience, which is backed by their ‘Broker Framework Model’, a holistic value system that embodies all aspects of the firm’s consulting, policy broking, and plan administration strategy. Pacific Prime’s innovative approach to individual and corporate sales is also backed by dedicated sales and renewals teams, and further streamlined by their state-of-the art CRM system.

Bupa Global further recognized Pacific Prime’s innovative excellence in marketing, particularly their dedication to releasing insightful industry reports on International Private Medical Insurance, including the Cost of International Health Insurance Report 2016, and the International Private Medical Insurance Inflation 2017 report. Besides further establishing Pacific Prime’s reputation as a key knowledge leader in the insurance industry, the reports help customers to make more informed purchasing decisions and act as a valuable benchmark that allows insurers to see what other providers in the industry are doing.

Sheldon Kenton, Managing Director at Bupa Global, commented: “Pacific Prime has consistently pushed the envelope in terms of maximizing their digital customer relevance and natural search authority via in depth reports on the industry, a very clear and consistent target customer focus and smart content marketing. I congratulate them on this well deserved award.”

Pacific Prime has worked in partnership with Bupa Global for over 13 years, and these awards are a continued reflection on the longstanding, successful relationship between two major players in the insurance industry. On this, Raymond expanded saying, “Pacific Prime continues to push for innovation and taking a proactive approach to helping our clients, and have been recognized by Bupa and most of the insurers on the market for our continued high level of consulting and servicing provided to individuals and groups throughout the world.” 

About Pacific Prime

Headquartered in Hong Kong, Pacific Prime is an award-winning insurance intermediary that leverages its longstanding partnerships with over 60 leading insurance providers to provide the best value insurance services and products to individual and group clients. For more information, visit: https://www.pacificprime.com/

Pacific Prime signs partnership agreement with Bahrain-based broker Protection Insurance Services

Pacific Prime and Protection Insurance Services logos

(Hong Kong, November 28, 2016) Pacific Prime, a leading global insurance advisor, is proud to announce a new strategic partnership with Protection Insurance Services, a leading insurance and reinsurance broking firm headquartered in Bahrain. This agreement will see both companies extend their operations within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and in other regions across the globe.

Providing mutual benefits to both parties, this exclusive partnership, finalized on November 17, 2016, now enables Pacific Prime to provide their services in the territories covered by Protection Insurance Service’s licence, and vice versa. For Pacific Prime, this means that they can now write business in KSA, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, markets that they were not licensed to quote for business in, up until now.

“In partnership with Protection Insurance Services, Pacific Prime will expand its footprint across the GCC. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship between the two companies” said Maria Loughran, Corporate Account Manager at Pacific Prime’s Abu Dhabi division, Medstar Insurance Brokers LLC. “Protection Insurance Services is a client centric brokerage, and as such, make for an ideal partner for our business. The values and ethical behavior of both brokerages align perfectly and both companies operate with the core value that; The client is at the heart of everything that we do.”

Protection Insurance Services has over 20 years of significant expertise in a comprehensive range of marine and non-marine insurance broking, consulting and claims-handling services, and as such, Pacific Prime sees this partnership as a unique opportunity to acquire deep insights into the industries that they operate in.

CEO of Protection Insurance Services, Samy Aziz, commented: “We at Protection Insurance Services are very excited about this partnership with Pacific Prime Middle East as it will strengthen relationships with our clients and insurance companies. We’re thrilled to be Pacific Prime’s partner while building upon our extensive experience, and bringing that robust expertise into the Employee Benefits insurance market.”

About Pacific Prime

Headquartered in Hong Kong, Pacific Prime International Limited is a leading international health insurance advisor that leverages its close relationships with over 60 leading insurance companies to provide the best value insurance services and products to individuals and corporations. With offices strategically located in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the UAE, Pacific Prime principally offers advice on international health insurance, business insurance and life insurance. For more information, visit: https://www.pacificprime.com/

About Protection Insurance Services W.L.L

Founded in 1996, Protection Insurance Services W.L.L is a leading insurance and reinsurance broking firm with sound reputation among the insurance community in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The company provides international specialized insurance, reinsurance services (including takaful and retakaful), and advisory services across the region of MENA, parts of Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and Asia. For more information, visit: http://www.protectionre.com/index.html

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Pacific Prime, an expert in insurance and healthcare, secures contract with one of the largest designer eyewear e-retailers: The SmartBuyGlasses Optical Group

SmartBuyGlasses and Pacific Prime Logo

The SmartBuyGlasses Optical Group turns to Pacific Prime to help manage their global health insurance needs.

Eyewear and healthcare go hand-in-hand, and that is why The SmartBuyGlasses Optical Group has established a collaborative partnership with Pacific Prime. Operating in over 30 countries, The SmartBuyGlasses group has employees from over 30 different countries and 15 different languages meaning an expert insurance provider is a must.

This newly established partnership goes beyond an insurance provider for SmartBuyGlasses’s international employees. With the E-retailer recently celebrating 10 years of expertise, it enables SmartBuyGlasses to share with Pacific Prime deep insights into the eye health industry, along with the latest products and services available, which in turn can be passed onto Pacific Prime clients when they encounter specific eye health issues.

This is the start of a flourishing relationship between the two health-orientated companies with both organizations having the same company core values of providing their customers with the best health expertise, product and service for their needs. Doron Kalinko, CEO and Co-founder of SmartBuyGlasses Optical Group remarks ‘I am very excited about the new partnership with Pacific Prime, we have been looking for an expert insurance provider and feel the partnership has huge benefits for both our employees and customers. I am looking forward to developing this collaboration over the next few years’

To find out more visit SmartBuyGlasses or Pacific Prime.

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For further press information, case studies, or interviews, please contact Julia Ritchie Global PR manager for SmartBuyGlasses Optical Group at [email protected]

About The SmartBuyGlasses Optical Group

The SmartBuyGlasses Optical Group, operated by Motion Global Ltd is the world’s leading online designer eyewear destination with operations across Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas. Since 2006, SmartBuyGlasses has empowered customers in over 30 countries to shop their own style and find what they love by offering over 180 brands and 80,000 different products. www.smartbuyglasses.com

About Pacific Prime

Pacific Prime, in operation for 16+ years, offers a wide range of international health insurance plans and cover for individuals, families, and organizations around the world.

With a multicultural team of skilled and qualified professionals, Pacific Prime makes it simple for you to find the best insurance. All insurance plans are backed up with expert advice which encompasses policy selection, claims handling, administration, and policy renewal all offered free of charge.
https://www.pacificprime.com/

Let’s talk food in Dubai!

Food in Dubai

As we have entered July, many of us have been fasting for the past many weeks. There are numerous potential health benefits of fasting, including weight loss, lowered cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, but let’s face it, people are looking forward to getting back to their normal eating schedules. Are the residents of Dubai choosing healthy options, though? How are the foods that we most commonly enjoy in the Emirates affecting people here? Here, UAE Medical Insurance’s partner Pacific Prime attempts to answer these questions by examining available information about health and food in Dubai.

Dubai’s health situation

As with many other countries in the developed world, the UAE, and thereby Dubai, has been seeing increased incidence of so-called ‘lifestyle diseases’. In fact, some of the statistics related to the health of Dubai are quite striking. For instance, 66% of men and 60% of women in the Emirate are considered to be obese or overweight, and these kinds of figures can be seen across all age groups. This can be seen easily in children in the UAE in general, where a larger portion of children are obese than is seen in the United States, and, furthermore, UAE children have been found to have cholesterol levels consistent with those commonly seen in 60-year-old men. Here are some more points about the current level of health in the UAE:

  • 1 out of every 5 people in the UAE is diabetic.
  • The average age of heart attack patients at Dubai’s Rashid Hospital is 20 years younger than the worldwide average.
  • More than 40 percent of adults in the UAE between 35 and 70 years of age suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • The most common health complaint in the UAE is cardiovascular disease, both in expats and locals alike.
  • Non-communicable diseases are now responsible for over 60 percent of all mortalities in GCC countries, which includes the UAE.

As you can tell from these facts and figures, diseases of affluence have unsurprisingly become a major issue in Dubai, as well as the rest of the UAE. To counter these trends, it would be prudent to focus on a few main points: weight gain, heart disease and diabetes. Here are some of the popular local dishes you can find around Dubai, and some you might want to avoid over indulging in.

Food in Dubai

What are the dishes that Dubai is known for?

On the relatively healthy side of things, there are many great vegetarian dishes enjoyed widely in Dubai. These include staples like Falafel, Hummus, Kousa Mahshi and Tabbouleh. These foods mostly contain heart-healthy fats, dietary fiber and a smattering of vitamins that will provide good fuel for your body while not causing you to gain weight when eaten in moderation.

One of the main ingredients in the foods we eat leading to weight gain, and, thereby, other health problems, is sugar. If not burned immediately for energy, this sweet substance will be stored as fat in our bodies. This is why some of our favorite delectable Dubai dishes should be eaten very sparingly. These include desserts like Luqaimat, Khanfaroosh, Knafeh, Esh Asarya and Mehalabiya, or breakfast dishes like Khabees. Even something seemingly healthy and natural like Dates can have a serious amount of sugar hidden within.

Moving from simple to complex carbohydrates, the array of delicious bread to be found in Dubai will tantalize even the most veteran of savory food lovers. While often good sources of fiber, the carbs in bread often spike insulin, which promotes converting energy into glucose within your body, which will then be stored as fat. This includes the bread and wheat found in dishes like Shawarma, Al Harees, Manousheh, Fatteh, Kellaj, Lahem Bl Ajin and Tabbon Bread.

Finally, we have meat-focused dishes like Ghuzi, Al Machbous, Mixed Grill, Chelo Kebab, Stuffed Camel and more. While lean protein is generally good for you (and great for those who work out regularly), it’s still important to look at what else is on the plate. Watch out for sugary sauces and starchy side dishes that often go overlooked when placing your order.

Keeping healthy

Clearly, the flavors of Dubai are both rich and varied, and now you hopefully have an idea of which dishes you can enjoy on special occasions, and which you can regularly to maintain a healthy diet. In addition, it’s not always about what you are eating as it is how much of it you eat. Keeping track of your daily calories and managing your portions will go a long way to ensuring that your waistband isn’t expanding in perpetuity.

Coincidentally, the end of Ramadan this year also signals the beginning of the Dubai Health Authorities healthcare reform that now requires every single individual in the Emirate to be covered by a private health insurance plan, and for good reason. While preventive care and healthy living should be the focus for all of us in the UAE, there inevitably comes a time in the life of some when diseases like those mentioned previously in this article will catch up. This is when it will be imperative to have a high-quality healthcare plan that can address the potential costs of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Those who have yet to purchase private medical insurance for themselves or their families following the June 30th deadline should fear not, there’s still time. The DHA has stated that it will be giving a 6 month grace period during which no fines will be levied against the uninsured. That means people can still use the services of insurance brokers like UAE Medical Insurance to compare health insurance plans from major insurers in Dubai and receive free price quotations.  Whether you will be eating healthy now or not, it’s certainly in your best interest to prepare for any future health problems that could develop.

Lifesavers: Acknowledging women throughout history that have had major impacts on health and medicine

International Women's Day

It’s International Women’s Day! A day where we not only show appreciation for the women we know that make our lives better each day, but also a moment to educate ourselves on the important contributions made to the world. And there are perhaps no areas that have a broader effect on the lives of people worldwide than those of healthcare and medical science. With this in mind, Pacific Prime would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the most profound contributions to health and wellbeing worldwide that we have only seen due to the direct contribution of some of the most dedicated and thoughtful women ever to have lived. This list is by no means exhaustive, and great work is being done by women in health and medical science still, but most will agree that the following women deserve to be recognized and remembered for their tireless work.

Mary Ellen Avery

A pioneer in pediatrics, despite contracting Tuberculosis shortly after graduating from medical school, Dr. Avery persevered through the illness and learned more about lung function. This turned into a passion for respiration that she applied to her work with prematurely born infants.  Having single handedly discover the cause behind respiratory distress syndrome in these children, a treatment was devised for the ailment that is estimated to have saved the lives of over 840,000 people thus far.

Francoise Barre-Sinoussi

At the pinnacle of the AIDS epidemic in America during the 1980s, the medical community was still at a loss for what exactly was causing the disease. Dr. Francoise Barre-Sinoussi was the first of many scientists researching the disease to identify the elusive HIV retrovirus. This excellent work has lead to Barre-Sinoussi being credited with saving over 2 million lives. She was awarded with the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2008.

Clara Barton

Forced into service by the Civil War, Clara Barton was a patent clerk-turned-nurse that was known as America’s “angel of the battlefield” by the time all was said and done. This is because, after recognizing shortages of medical supplies on the battlefield and organizing to have this remedied, she also led the initiative to treat the sick and wounded soldiers there. To put a fine point on how prolific her work was, Clara Barton was also the founder of the American Red Cross in 1881, and the group’s leader until 1904.

Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell is known as a trailblazer simply by virtue of being the first ever female medical doctor in the United States in 1849 (which, assuredly, was actually not a simple thing to achieve). Today in the United States, half of medical school grads are women; A figure that can be appreciated thanks in part to the work of Dr. Blackwell. The funny thing is, Blackwell did not even want to be a doctor for most of her life. Working as a teacher, she turned to medicine only after a dying friend confided in Elizabeth that her suffering would have been greatly diminished if only her doctor was a woman.

Marie Curie

A Polish chemist, Marie Curie, along with her husband, invented a way to harness the power of X-rays, and apply them to healthcare. She was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize, and remains the only woman to have won two Nobel prizes. She is also one of only 4 people to win the Nobel Prize in two separate categories (chemistry and physics). The awards are well deserved seeing as countless lives have been improved thanks to the medical technology the Curies developed together.

Dorothea Dix

As much as we feel that mentally ill patients slip through the cracks today, in Dorothea Dix’s day there was absolutely no help for them in the US. However, thanks to her work, the first wave of American mental health facilities was established. In addition to the mentally ill, her career also focused on helping and promoting the rights of others who were often forgotten by society, namely prisoners and the disabled.

Grace Eldering  and Pearl Kendrick

Both of these ladies were stricken with whooping cough by the age of five. Due to this fact, you could perhaps say that it was revenge that allowed the pair to change the world. At the height of the disease, it was responsible for over 6,000 mortalities a year inside of Eldering and Kendrick’s home country of the United States. However, using their backgrounds in science and medicine, the pair were able to develop a vaccine that sent incidences of whooping cough tumbling rapidly by the 1960s. As a result, these women have been credited with saving over 13 million lives today.

Gertrude Belle Elion

Even though she never earned a PhD thanks to attitudes about women in academia around the time of the Great Depression, Gertrude Belle Elion did not let that stop her from learning all she could about cancer after seeing her grandfather pass away as a result of the disease. Undaunted by society’s unspoken rules, Elion went on to create the first major drug used to fight leukemia, and developed 45 treatments to aid in battling cancer. Also, she, along with Dr. George Hitchings, developed Rational Drug Design, which was a process for researching and inventing new pharmaceuticals. This methodology was later used to develop drugs such as the popular AIDS medicine AZT. Elion capped her career by winning a Nobel Prize in 1988.

Alice Catherine Evans

Thanks to her hard work as the first permanent female scientist to be hired by the US Department of Agriculture, Evans found that infections carried by cows could cause illness in humans. This research lead to milk pasteurization laws being put in place that are still keeping populations around the world healthy today.

Rosalind Elsie Franklin

Franklin’s work led to the discovery of the double-helix model of our DNA as we know it today. Following her death, her colleagues James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins later went on to win the Nobel Prize thanks in large part to her efforts. Rosalind Franklin was also well known for her trailblazing work on X-ray diffraction.

Alice Hamilton

In academia, Alice Hamilton holds the distinction of being the first woman appointed to Harvard University’s faculty. Beyond this, Hamilton’s impact has been long lasting, as she was a pioneer in identifying environmentally hazardous materials as also having a negative effect on human health. Thanks to her, workers around the world today are (or at least should be) working in safe and regulated conditions.

Ann Holloway and Anna Mitus

Perhaps the women in medical history who have helped save more lives than any others. Their work as part of the team that developed a vaccine for measles has led to the prevention of over 118 million deaths. Working closely with John Enders on the project, Holloway also previously assisted him in developing a vaccine for polio, for which Enders won the Nobel Prize.

Mary-Claire King

Geneticist Mary-Claire King discovered the genetic marker for breast cancer when the popular thought was that the disease was caused by a random series of environmental and genetic factors. Her research led to the discovery of the exact chromosome (chromosome 17) and gene (BRCA-1) responsible for breast cancer.

Florence Nightingale

Despite belonging to a wealthy family, Florence Nightingale felt an attraction to helping others through nursing early on in her life. Once educated, she was flung into the Crimean War and put on a path towards her now legendary status. Noting dreadful hygienic conditions in medical treatment areas, Nightingale was able to reorganize operations in a way that drastically improved medical outcomes. After the war ended, she proliferated the same ideas by founding her own nursing school that then paved the way for modern nursing techniques.

Eleanor Roosevelt

It is expected of the First Lady today to spearhead sweeping health initiatives in the United States. However, this trend began with Eleanor Roosevelt. As the head of the UN Human Rights Commission in 1948 and one of the authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Roosevelt ensured that access to health care was considered a fundamental human right.

Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger is the original champion of reproductive rights. In addition to being a nurse, she spent her career as an advocate for birth control (even popularizing the term), as well as a sex educator. Mind you, this was in the 19th century, when the public’s tolerance for such ideas was low to say the least. Nevertheless, Sanger went on to open the United States’ first birth control clinic. Other organizations she founded later became what is known today as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Rachel Schneerson

In partnership with John Robbins, Schneerson developed a vaccine for Haemophilus Influenzae type b, also known as Hib. While many people may not be familiar with this type of bacteria, they no doubt will be more familiar with the bacterial meningitis that it causes. Since the development of the vaccine Hib disease has been practically eliminated throughout developed nations, which is believed to have saved the lives of 660,000+ lives.

Rosalyn Sussman Yalow

Rosalyn Sussman Yalow developed the procedures that have allowed for screening out infectious diseases from blood donations, thereby preventing the spread of many illnesses through blood transfusions. Although she was a physicist, she won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1977.

Tu Youyou

This Chinese teacher and chemist was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015 for her work in discovering dihydroartemisinin and atemisinin. For the layman, these are pharmaceuticals used to treat Malaria all around the world. Her work has already saved millions of people from dying of the disease.

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