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International Medical Insurance Market Compliance Requirements Becoming Stricter

Showing the true extent of where their global footprint reaches, Bupa International have made yet more developments in the Asian region.

Posted on Jul 03, 2013 by Holly Booth ()

Showing the true extent of where their global footprint reaches, Bupa International have made yet more developments in the Asian region. Due to a recent tightening of offshore medical insurance laws in the Philippines, Bupa are now closing off new business for both local and expatriate clients based in the country. 

Pacific Prime analysts are not surprised to see Bupa once more being among the first companies on a global scale to identify and adhere to changing laws in any specific country. In all of the major expatriate hubs such as Dubai, Hong Kong, Mainland China and Singapore, Bupa has a proven track record of getting in early to obtain the best understanding of the market, as well as endeavouring to ensure coverage is appropriately compliant for clients based in such areas. With the target market in these areas historically showing highly transient characteristics, the unavoidable temporary nature of the coverage itself has historically resulted in the laws for expatriate insurance sitting in a more grey area of international regulations. 

As the overall community of expatriates around the world continues to expand at an ever increasing rate, the laws regarding health insurance for International residents in many countries have had to adjust too especially as more and more countries are attempting to attract the international expatriate community to try and keep up with the exponential drive for globalisation from all corners of the earth. 

Seemingly riding in the wake of Obamacare in the USA, just the last 5 years alone have seen compliance becoming an increasing issue on an international level, although such issues have been more common in newly developing countries. There are some countries in the world that may not be the first to come to mind if asked where the most sought after destinations booming for expats are, but countries such as Germany and Switzerland have actually had their fair share of immigration in recent history. 

However, because a majority of this emigration was intended to be permanent, this has driven these countries to have extremely specific laws regarding medical insurance, and it now can be quite difficult to find an international plan that is appropriately suited to the specific requirements of a residential Visa.  In Switzerland, for example, the rules can literally change between each individual Canton (suburb), and like German law, it is not always possible for expatriates to choose insurers based offshore.

Getting back to the more burgeoning areas like the Middle East And Asia, Singapore has proven to have one of the most consistently stringent compliancy infrastructures in place, with one of the tightest nets in the world when it comes to ensuring that no non-compliant plans can slip through for any residents there. However, they have managed to still remain one of the most sought after destination points for international expatriates, at least when comparing to the three other Asian Tiger countries that together economically boomed though the 60’s to the 90’s with the kind of growth rates that China has been enjoying in more recent years.

Of the other three countries that make up the pack, Hong Kong is also a highly sought after destination for expats, however the regulations for medical insurance are not as strict as Taiwan and South Korea, resulting in a large majority of international private medical insurance aimed at the Asian market being based out of this small but influential island. Taiwan and South Korea on the other hand, turned their focus towards a more internal means by capitalising on their own resources and becoming world leaders in the manufacturing field. 

On the Global scale, the most notable changes in any one country in recent years, where the need for finding a compliant insurance policy for expatriates is becoming increasingly important, is easily mainland China. The rules in this once straight forward market are becoming more and more of a pressing issue on an almost monthly basis, especially as the entire market sits under the shadows of some of the most expensive medical facilities in the entire globe, higher even than the USA. Though with so many expatriates pouring into China, and the sheer mass and burgeoning wealth of the general population that just one generation ago would have been considered third world, means it will be some time before China can match the level of control of their predeceasing Asian tiger countries. 

However, of the burgeoning markets, the tightest control regarding health insurance laws and regulations is found in the Middle East in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, where the laws for Medical insurance in this oil-fuelled capital differs greatly compared to the six other former Sheikhdoms that unified to become the Arab Emirates in the early 1970s. In this Federation of states, though Dubai would easily be the more visible city on the global scale, Abu Dhabi is still the political and cultural centre of the country, with one of the most insular medical insurance systems that can be found anywhere. 

Despite each emirate essentially being self governed with their own processes for foreign nationals that reside there, Abu Dhabi law restricts any single hospital specifically within this emirate from accepting payment from insurance providers that are not HAAD compliant (Health Authority Abu Dhabi). For an insurer to be HAAD compliant, the government demands a level of cover with benefit requirements that are unmatched by any other country in the world, let alone the other 6 Emirates. The coverage only needs to meet these requirements for treatment received in Abu Dhabi, and it is mandatory not only for full time residents in this city, but the many who live in other emirates and regularly travel to Abu Dhabi for work or study. 

Adhering to local compliance and regulation is steadily becoming one of the most significant factors for Pacific Prime clients as more and more people search for health insurance while living in the worlds newer economic hot spots. Compared to even just 5 years ago where the majority of plans available were likely processed on an offshore basis, Pacific Prime is pleased that Bupa are still leading the way by ceasing to offer their international plans in areas where a locally admitted policy is required. 

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