With over 10 years experience in the market, MSH has now become one of the largest health insurance providers in China in 2012 through the help of a plan designed in collaboration with Pacific Prime.
Since joining the Chinese market in 2001, when they established a TPA (Third Party Administrator) service for international health and life insurance products based out of Europe, MSH have grown to be one of the largest providers in Chinese international insurance. Furthermore, in 2005, the insurer launched the first CIRC (Chinese Insurance Regulatory Commission) approved international plan that now serves over 800 companies in China, many of which are found in the fortune 500.
Utilizing the existing international platform provided by their parent company, MSH International, MSH China strategically partnered with China Re in 2003 and together created the first plan completely licensed and regulated in China by the CIRC. The plan offered medical insurance on an international level, while providing customers with the ability to pay and have claims reimbursed in the local currency – RMB. With China Re being the only state owned reinsurance company in China, this partnership has served as a platform to best serve clients both in mainland china and internationally.
One of the key elements to the success of MSH China, lies in the utilization of their provider network. Established in 2001, MSH has since grown this network and is now able to capitalize on their long standing and direct relationship with all main hospitals in China, both private and public, by enjoying discounted treatment prices unattainable by other providers.
With an exemplary history of fast payment and prompt professional service, MSH gives all hospitals the same levels of service, regardless of the extent of the treatment cost or what hospital they are dealing with. On top of this, MSH also boasts one of the largest client bases of any insurer in China and as a result, all hospitals appear to be eager to join MSH China’s facility network and offer preferential treatment rates in return.
This reduction in cost for treatment compared to other insurers, has enabled MSH to offer premiums at a lower cost than its competitors without needing to sacrifice the quality of coverage offered.
Owen Ryan, of Pacific Prime, commented: “We are positive about the way MSH China will continue to grow in the Chinese market as they have proven to offer excellent levels of service to all of our clients, with little to no disputes or issues; as well as offering plans and premiums that keep our clients happy”.
Another of the key factors that have allowed for the growth of MSH in China is the fact that the insurer tailors its coverage to specifically suite the wide range of clients it deals with in the region. For example, options to restrict or exclude coverage at High cost providers, as well as offering geographical cover restrictions to Mainland China have been made available. This is similar to the design of Now Health International’s plans, though MSH does offer one distinct advantage in that Maternity benefits are considered an optional extra, as opposed to being built into the high level plans in Now Health’s case. Also, MSH requires that two adults on the plan must both pay full maternity premiums to be able to have maternity benefits made available to them.
This particular plan design was put into place after consulting with Pacific Prime, who have witnessed the need for insurers to dramatically increase their premiums in the past due to high utilization on low cost maternity plans. The optional maternity benefit has assisted MSH in avoiding large claims loss ratios on individual plans when clients use maternity benefits in China where the hospital costs are among some of the highest in the world, even matching the cost levels in the USA at some facilities.
Mr Ryan commented “We do understand that it is expensive to take an MSH plan with maternity in the first year, though clients will see the benefits in the future when there are very stable premium increases at renewal. Also, our clients who do not need maternity are very happy as the plans are priced accordingly for their requirements”.
Not only have MSH designed plans that are suitable for a wide range of clients, but they have been able to offer service to back this up both in China and elsewhere across the globe. Their International emergency medical assistance line with multilingual medical staff, including mandarin speakers from the Chinese office and all other major languages from the MSH International offices in Europe, has given customers the peace of mind that they will be able to speak to someone in any required language when they most require assistance. Furthermore, MSH has proved it can handle such situations with a level of expediency that will ensure high levels of client retention in the future.
One of the only drawbacks of the MSH China plan for individual expatriates was the inability for the plans to transfer continuously over to the MSH international plans when insured members relocated out of China, a service offered to the advantage of many of their competitors such as Bupa, Cigna or ICBC AXA. To combat this, MSH China has opened international bank accounts that allow for payment to be made and the plan to be continued outside China if a member moves to a different country. However, the plan would still be based in China, where all claims reimbursement must be made with original documents being submitted, so while there is still room for improvement on this, it is definitely a step in the right direction.
Despite the recent arrival of many large international competitors with licensed products in China, MSH has been able to make the most of their local experience and successful strategic partnering in China. The insurer has clearly taken full advantage of the international presence and servicing offered to them via the MSH International offices thereby enabling them to become the leading insurer in 2012 for locally admitted products in China.