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News & Developments in International Health Insurance

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Mar 26, 2013

Bupa to Increase Child Insurance Premiums in China

With the recent release of Bupa's April 1st, 2013 premium adjustments for the Premier Worldwide Health Options plan based out of China, some major adjustments to child coverage could give reason for Parents to show concern. Bupa have changed the design…

With the recent release of Bupa's April 1st, 2013 premium adjustments for the Premier Worldwide Health Options plan based out of China, some major adjustments to child coverage could give reason for Parents to show concern. Bupa have changed the design of premiums for young children by introducing specific rates so that children in the 0 - 6 age bracket will have differing rates for those in the age 7 - 20 bracket. In addition, an increase ranging from 25% to 50% for children in the lower of the age brackets will occur, and a 6.1% increase in the elder children's' age bracket, meaning that the rates for a child aged 0-6 will now be higher than that of older children.



For young children, the premium increase has shown some extreme variation across the range of modules and deductibles available on the PWHO plan. The 'WMI' inpatient only module has increased uniformly across all deductibles by 32%. The 'WMP' outpatient consultation module however, has increased by 37% for children on a nil excess. While this increase may seem high enough in itself, it is overshadowed by the 50% increase for clients on the $170 excess option. Furthermore, the dental/wellbeing and medicine modules have also both increased uniformly by 25% for this age bracket. This is an extreme contrast in comparison to the older children age bracket, which saw the same increase as all other adult ages at 6.1% for all modules and deductible levels.

This dramatic surge in costs may be disappointing to parents but it highlights that offering the best coverage to Bupa's clients is more of a concern for the insurer rather than the cost entailed. Their WMP module offers excellent cover for children aged 0 - 6 including high levels of wellness checkups and vaccination cover. Rather than perhaps reducing the benefits specific for young children that have obviously shown high usage levels in China, Bupa prefer to keep the coverage as the best possible on the market, though with a high price point to match.

Once children reach the age of 7, their premium will again drop back to the lower amounts for this age bracket, which is proving to provide some relief at least for concerned parents. However, for clients with children in the younger of the two age brackets, who do not necessarily wish to avail of the child wellness on offer, this dramatic rise may make the plans difficult to justify if the amount being paid is not fairly reciprocated in the benefits received. There will be many families who did not choose to include the module with child wellness, though their child's premium will still increase by a minimum of 25%, a number that is significant enough in itself despite being half of the increase recorded for premiums of young children within the same plan on the WMP module.

This premium increase is surprisingly contrary to the rest of Bupa's adjustments made for their other location based plans. Bupa have historically shown an edge over other insurers by nearly always showing stability in their annual adjustment and have always been one of the market leaders in international insurance. Despite being one of the pioneers for this market and even after a long history of success, the insurer is still relatively new to the Chinese market, having launched their product roughly two years ago, so adjustments such as these can be expected to ensure future premiums remain stable.

Child alone cover is a continuing point of discussion in the Chinese market with some insurers offering extended cover to children alone where they may not have normally offered this outside China, and some insurers offering limited cover for children alone compared to the rest of the world. Now Health, for example, will cover children alone for plans that are processed in China, though they will not offer this for plans processed in other parts of the world. In contrast to this, Interglobal offer cover for children alone on all levels of their plans outside China, though their policies in China (licensed via AXA-ICBC) will only offer children alone cover on their lower level plans. Trying to educate the market to understand the true value of a product that is so new has been a difficult task for all insurers and brokers alike.

Despite this unforeseen increase, Bupa are still highly dedicated to the Chinese market and are showing this by making adjustments to their premium to ensure accuracy and fairness for all clients so that their premiums can remain steady going forward. Pacific Prime's analysts suspect that the Increase for this age bracket will not be as extreme at the adjustment.
Mar 13, 2013

Pacific Prime Clients Pleased with AXA PPP as Premium Rates Remain Steady with April Adjustment.

With the release of AXA PPP's April 1st premiums, clients will be pleased to note a steady 6 month increase of just 3% to 5%, depending on the level of plan chosen. With an across the Board increase of just 4% last October, all clients with AXA…

With the release of AXA PPP's April 1st premiums, clients will be pleased to note a steady 6 month increase of just 3% to 5%, depending on the level of plan chosen. With an across the Board increase of just 4% last October, all clients with AXA PPP are enjoying an annual increase of under the 10% mark. The AXA PPP plans also offer great value added benefits and the insurers 'Europe only' plan is now being offered and although the plans are limited in the cover, the premiums are 40% to 50% cheaper that the worldwide plan.

In October 2012, there was a semi annual increase of just 4% that affected all levels of the AXA PPP worldwide plan, including the Standard, Comprehensive and Comprehensive Plus plan levels. The release of the April adjustments in 2013 saw a different result whereby there was a stepped level of adjustments on each plan level. The Standard plan increased by 3%, the comprehensive plan increased by 4%, and the comprehensive Plus plan increased by 5%. Despite the higher level plans experiencing a higher adjustment, the small variance of just 2% between AXA PPP's lowest and highest plan is a very pleasing result for all clients as it means that when adding these semi annual increases together, the maximum 12 monthly increase was just 9%, and the lowest  was just 7%.

With now over 40 years of experience on the international insurance market, AXA PPP have a wealth of knowledge in this field and offer many additional services  other than medical benefits alone. AXA PPP have increasingly been using a more holistic approach much to the benefit of their clients, especially those on assignment overseas, ensuring plans remain attractive for today's global expatriate. Some of the main features of the insurer's plans include their MyGlobe, Personal Case Management, Health at Hand and Better Health programs available for free for all AXA PPP clients.

Pacific Prime clients can enjoy the MyGlobe program offered for free by AXA PPP that is a multifaceted online portal that offers greatly beneficial services for expatriates. The service allows clients to search through a list of over 12,000 globally recognised providers, view country by country information and tips such as what vaccinations are needed as well as information on local politics, geography and culture. Furthermore, clients can access information regarding safely alerts on any possible dangers such as security/terrorist risks, health risks and medical outbreaks; as well as easy to use quick links to embassies, airports and emergency contact numbers.

The dedicated individual assistance offered by the "Personal Case Management" service is also a great addition for clients. This service is designed to give expatriate clients that bit of extra support when help is needed in finding the best healthcare, particularly if there are difficulties with communication due to language barriers. To ensure that assistance is impartial and is in the best interest of the client, this service is outsourced by AXA PPP via a company called Medix who will assist clients from the moment it is known that treatment is needed by not only helping to connect them to the best health provider in their region, but to further help deal with the paperwork required to make a claim, and subsequently oversee the case right through to full recovery of the patient.

Another important assistive feature is the AXA PPP Health at Hand program. This is a 24 hour medical assistance line that is staffed by medical professionals such as Nurses, Midwives, Pharmacists and Counsellors and is designed to give clients the latest information, advice, guidance and support regarding treatment and medicines. Although not able to specifically diagnose medical conditions, it is a great relief for clients to have immediate access to this system when living in a foreign country.

Better health is a specific site offering advice for clients regarding better, healthier living. The site provides expert videos, articles, information and tips for clients to improve their wellbeing, body and mind. Furthermore, the site includes articles and videos covering a wide variety of day by day health tips such as managing stress, to physical fitness, as well as learning about diet and nutrition. There are specific fitness instructions that are easy to follow for all fitness levels, a healthy mind section with mind exercises, memory tips and stress reduction strategies, as well as a medical fact sheet that explains a vast array of different medical terminology.

These programs highlight an emerging trend for insurers to offer services in addition to just standard medical treatment coverage which is undoubtedly more helpful for global expatriates. As more and more expatriates look toward long term residency in foreign countries in conjunction with increasing assignment lengths, Pacific Prime clients can be very happy to avail of the benefits offered by companies with such a depth of international experience such as AXA PPP.
Mar 05, 2013

Pacific Prime Bupa Corporate Clients to Benefit as Premium Adjustments Remain Stable

With the release of Bupa's company premiums from the 1st April, Pacific Prime clients have reason to be pleased as Bupa once again show stability in their pricing adjustments, indicating that the strength of their costing construction is designed to increase longevity for the clients by remaining consistent.

With the release of Bupa's company premiums from the 1st April, Pacific Prime clients have reason to be pleased as Bupa once again show stability in their pricing adjustments, indicating that the strength of their costing construction is designed to increase longevity for the clients by remaining consistent.

Bupa's reputation as an insurer has always been strong as their size continually grows. One of the major contributing factors to Bupa's growth is that they are a providential association where all profits made are reinjected into the company as opposed to being given to the shareholders. This has provided Bupa with a tremendous advantage from a global perspective as it has allowed them to allocate funds into areas that other insurers would not be able to, particularly into the payment of claims where Bupa have far fewer exclusions than other insurers. For example, Bupa will cover all injuries caused at work even when the client has a high risk job such as Mining or Construction, as well as covering all injuries caused by sports and higher-risk pastimes such as rock climbing or paragliding.

This ability to utilise their cash flow specifically with the intention of assisting their clients, as opposed to growing the share value, has enabled Bupa to create an array of different programs and policies that other insurance providers may not be able to offer, such as the Worldwide Second Opinion service manned by independent, international medical experts. Bupa also allow clients on their company plans to access Medikidz for free. Medikidz is a program that creates cartoons which have been specifically designed for children to understand certain medical conditions, complex or simple, in a format that is clear enough so that the conditions can be properly understood. This is a great tool for families where any family member is diagnosed with a long term medical condition, by helping children to understand the situation and feel more comfortable with any specific life changes that may need to be made at home to accommodate the person with the illness.

With the international market for medical insurance growing, especially for SME (Small to Medium Sized Enterprises) groups, Bupa have made some eligibility adjustments to suit the market requirements. One of the main aspects of this is the reduction of mandatory group size to be eligible for an MHD (Medical History Disregarded) policy. Previously, Bupa would require at least twenty employees on the plan before they would be eligible for an MHS, this number has now been reduced and, on a case by case basis, could offer MHD to a group of 10 employees.

Offering MHD to groups is a key selling point as it means that the employees will be fully covered for any medical event, even it s related to a pre-existing medical condition. Usually, groups of this size would be subject to FMU (Full Medical Underwriting) and any medical conditions that exist prior to the start date of the policy would be excluded. The trend now, however, is for employers to offer more superior levels of cover with SME groups to try and attract key employees and promote extended levels of staff retention as well as to minimise loss of productivity due to attrition, a common means of productivity reduction for expatriate companies.

Another major advantage for Bupa SME in groups is that, if an individual were to leave the group and require cover as an individual, they will allow the client to continue seamlessly onto an individual plan and maintain the same conditions from the group policy. This means that if a client does develop a medical condition while on the group plan, it will remain covered on their new individual policy. This is a very unique advantage of the Bupa group plans and could easily be considered one of the highlighting features of Bupa's commitment to expatriate clients.

Despite Bupa still only offering their original Lifeline plans to groups, they do have a separate BWHO (Worldwide Health Options) plan for individuals. Bupa are seriously dedicated to offering the highest level of group cover in the market Pacific Prime is confident that the insurer will maintain their position as one of the leaders in the field.

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