Key metrics for the success of your group health plan

Group of people discussing their group health plan

Regardless of your industry, there are a number of components that make up the core of the most successful employment benefits packages, one of the most important (and in demand) being health insurance. The question here is how can you or your HR team judge the success of your plan while ensuring it is meeting the needs of your employees? Here, we discuss 7 key metrics that you can employ to help you gauge the success of your group health plan.

Metric 1 – Loss ratio

Calculated by taking the amount you pay (your premium) and dividing it by the amount the insurer pays out in claims, this ratio is essential in determining the health of your plan and is often used in calculating premium increases.

As an HR professional, knowing the ratio of your health plan and comparing it with industry standards can help provide you with a sound negotiation tool when it comes to negotiating premium increases or even coverage elements. In some cases, your current and historical loss ratio can even be used to provide a ballpark estimate on future premiums or premium increases.

Learn more about loss ratios in this article from Pacific Prime Hong Kong.  

Metric 2 – Average claims per member

Calculated by taking the number of claims submitted by the number of employees covered this will tell you, on average, how many claims are submitted each year by your employees. Comparing this to either an industry benchmark or historical average, this can gauge the overall utilization and satisfaction with your group health insurance plan.  

Tracking this metric also generates a wealth of useful group health plan data that can be used to help you not only better understand plan utilization. It also acts as a litmus test that can help to identify problems. For example, by tracking and analyzing the claims submitted by each person we are often able to help HR identify individuals who claim more than average along with individuals who are submitting costly claims.

From there, we help HR teams to work with these employees to help ensure they are receiving the support they need while ensuring claims do not massively impact the loss ratio.

Beyond that, this data can also help to uncover where your employees prefer to receive care. This information can be used to try to steer employees away from certain high-cost providers, or to identify whether the plan is actually meeting their health needs.

Metric 3 – Insurer/broker response time and claims processing time

Time, as you know, is money. Spending hours a day or month on chasing insurers or brokers for information or replying to employees who are having issues with plans can be not only frustrating but also take you away from working on other, possibly more important tasks. This is where this metric can help.

In truth, this metric can actually be made up of a number of similar metrics that when combined help you judge the overall level of service you are getting from an insurer. You can then compare this to your company and employee’s needs and judge whether the plan you have is actually working.

For example, many companies we work with will track things like number of claims vs broker/insurer response time, number of claims vs average time to settle a claim, number of claims vs employee complaints, and most importantly, when the insurer broker communicates.

Generally speaking, insurers with lower premiums will tend to have lower levels of service. Securing a plan like this will often save you money upfront, but if you have to spend half your day calling the insurer, not getting answers, waiting weeks for claims to be settled, waiting weeks for new members to be added, or old members to be removed, etc, you could end up actually paying more in the long run.

It is important to measure when the insurer or broker communicates important information to allow you to make timely decisions. For example, if they take a long time to provide claims details or renewal information this could leave you with little to no breathing room to find better coverage or negotiate for better premiums.

Metric 4 – The number of people covered by the group health plan

Commonly referred to by insurers as ‘participation rate’, this metric looks at the number of employees insured by a plan versus the number of employees eligible for the plan (achieved by dividing number of employees insured by number of eligible employees) and will often compare this percentage with a benchmark for similar businesses. In practice, this metric will actually vary for each company and is normally adapted to meet the type of insurance plan you have selected.

For example, in our experience, many companies are securing group health plans that cover inpatient care only. If an employee wants additional coverage for outpatient care the company will usually cover a percentage of the premium, say 50-80%.

Looking at the number of people who are securing additional coverage or have utilized extra coverage then comparing this to industry benchmarks can be a solid indicator as to the overall success of your plan. If you find that a higher percentage of employees are selecting to add additional coverage than the benchmark this will likely point to the fact that your plan is not being perceived by employees as useful. This, in turn, means it might be worth looking into upping benefits offered by your plan.  

Metric 5 – The ratio of dependents covered by your group health plan

This is certainly a metric that will not be used by all companies, but that said, it is an incredibly important metric for companies who extend their health insurance plan to employee’s dependents.

Calculated by taking the total number of participants and dividing it by the number of employees covered, this ratio can help determine whether you are covering more or less employee’s dependents.

It is important as, in our experience, it is often dependents who have the highest number of claims. This is especially true for children who are covered by the plan as children will statistically have to visit the doctor more often. In turn, this could have adverse effects on premiums your company pays.

If you find that you are ensuring more dependents per employee than is standard it might be worth looking into your plan and seeing whether this is having an impact on your premiums or claims.

Metric 6 – Employee demographics

This metric, calculated by looking at the number of employees and breaking them down into groups such as age, sex, location, etc., can be a major help in the search for group health plans and determining the overall satisfaction with it.

For example, knowing your the age groups of your employees can help you determine what types of cover will be most utilized and the potential medical issues your staff may seek care for. You can then search for plans that meet some of these needs or work to set expectations with existing plans.

Metric 7 – Questions asked  

Like some of the above metrics, this is really more of a series of different related measurements that can be tracked to help you with your plan. For example, by tracking the number of questions asked by new plan joiners, the number of questions asked by more senior staff, etc. you can gauge exactly how engaged people are with the plan.

If you see that new employees ask a fair number of questions regarding health benefits then it is probably a good indicator that there is confusion with the plan and better explanations/onboarding is needed.

It would also pay to track the types of questions asked and by whom. For example, if your team is getting a lot of questions about claims or benefit limits you this indicates that you might be spending an inordinate amount of time answering questions that could be avoided through better documentation. Beyond that, certain questions like “Can I keep my own doctor” could point to demand for a better provider network or potential areas where employees could be unhappy with the plan.

How can I set benchmarks and implement these group health plan metrics?

One of the best ways you or your HR team can implement and track the above metrics is to actually work with a broker like Pacific Prime. In truth, the majority of the above metrics are actually part of our corporate insurance service that we offer to all companies. Our team of corporate insurance experts strive to work with your business to ensure you and your employees have the most optimal coverage while reducing the amount of time you spend managing the plan and answering questions.

To learn more about our group health plan service, visit our new corporate site today.

What makes a good group health insurance company?

Tick boxes for a good group health insurance company

So you’ve set out to find a truly great group health insurance company to handle your organization’s insurance needs. Your team is focused on securing the absolute best possible group health insurance plan both for themselves, their colleagues and the company as a whole, but they begin to realize that finding the right group health insurance company can make all the difference in the world when it comes to finding great long term value from any potential insurance policy.  We all know generally that providing excellent customer service should be a priority for any company that we work with, but what specifically should you be looking for in an insurer? To aid anyone who is in a situation similar to the one above, Pacific Prime is proud to present this feature on what you should look out for when it comes to finding the best group health insurance company.

Group health insurance company experience

If there’s one characteristic that is common among the best group health insurance companies in the world, it’s experience. Putting in leg work and elbow grease over an entire career’s worth of time can really give an insurance agent the know how to get just about any task accomplished efficiently. The relationships that are forged with other insurance professionals can really help an agent’s clients out of some sticky situations. Now, take this individual experience and spread it across an entire company and it’s easy to see where the collective knowledge of a group health insurance company can be a force to be reckoned with. Here are some additional points with regards to experience:

Familiarity with industry

When you’re shopping for group health insurance, it will come as no surprise that you will be better off choosing an insurer that has knowledge and experience within your organization’s particular sector. This is because the group health insurance company will then be familiar with the specific problems that organizations like yours faces on a regular basis. As well, an insurer should be versed in handling an organization of the same size as yours. If they mostly have experience with individual medical insurance policies, they may not be able to handle the workload that a large group policy may require.

For instance, an insurer that is familiar with insuring schools will know all the in and outs of insuring teachers, as well as the importance of addressing your policy requirements at specific times of the year. After all, schools run on a schedule that other businesses don’t, so getting insurance needs done and dusted before the summer break is important. There are many small aspects like this that need to be considered for every industry, and an insurer unfamiliar with yours is much more likely to overlook something that a more experienced insurer would not.

Claims data analytics

Once you’ve actually secured your policy from your group health insurance company, that isn’t the end of the transaction. A group health policy requires regular communication with your insurer combined with ongoing maintenance. This is because the policy will inevitably be used, and claims will be made on it by your members. The thing about these claims is that they can be studied to give insight into the future of your policy. By establishing claims trends, an experienced insurer can then determine if your benefits are serving you as well as they should, and clue you into any potential premium rises way before they actually happen. As well, plan administrators can be notified by the insurer if your employees aren’t using their insurance enough, or if the plan is used far more than originally thought.

Benchmarking

Once enough data has been collected about your organization, how will you know how you stack up versus similar or competing organizations? A competent group health insurance company or broker will be able to provide exactly this type of information. Pacific Prime, for example, has established such a large portfolio of clients over 17+ years of operation that we can confidently explain to our potential members exactly what kinds of benefits they should have to keep up with competitors or how their plan is performing vis-à-vis others in their sector.

Group health insurance company approach

Despite the above section, even a newer group health insurance company can be effective. Sometimes it’s all about their approach to the market and how they regard their clients that makes all the difference. With this in mind, you should be looking for an insurer with some of the following qualities:

Negotiation

When renewal time comes up for your group health insurance policy, negotiations can be tough. This is one of the main points where utilizing an insurance broker will be of special value to you, as they can help you negotiate terms of your next policy with your group health insurance company. Negotiating on your own, you will not have the unbiased advice that comes with a broker, and it will be on your staff to analyze your claims data to try to recognize if you’re getting a good value with your current plan. Pacific Prime’s mantra during the negotiating process is to always look out for our members’ best interests, and not those of the insurance provider.

Manage premium cost and stability

Going right along with negotiations are managing premium costs. At negotiation time, most of the time a group health insurance company is going to want to raise premiums, as medical costs tend to raise year-over-year and other factors are taken into account. What your organization will want is proof that a premium rise is justified, and that it’s not time to switch to another insurer.

Fortunately for Pacific Prime members, they will be able to address potential premium increases armed with knowledge. They will either know that the increase is appropriate, or they will be able to dispute the rise, backed up with facts and statistics that support their argument. Thereby keeping premiums low and, hopefully, avoiding switching insurers on too frequent a basis.

Customized service teams

Many times people will find that they do not get the service they need from a group health insurance company for one of two reasons. The first is that they are assigned a single person to assist them with their insurance plan. While this person may have all the experience and knowledge in the world, sometimes having only a single point of contact to work with will be overwhelming for them, and your plan performance may suffer as a result.

On the other hand, you could be given access to the entirety of the staff that an insurance company has, yet be left without a particular person to hold accountable. This means that, when you’re in need of insurance advice, you may have to explain who you are and what your problem is to somebody that is not familiar with your organization at all.

To avoid both of these issues, it’s best to find a company to work with that will provide you with a bespoke team that will be very familiar with your organization’s specifics. By having a number of people assigned to you, but also limiting the people responsible for your plan’s performance, a balance between knowledge and responsibility can be maintained.

With all of the above points in mind, we are confident that you will find that Pacific Prime are the insurance experts that you should be working with. Not only do we have all of the points above in spades, as a broker we are also in a unique position to offer you plans from the industry’s top insurers. This will save you much time and energy when searching for a new group health insurance plan, because you will not have to sift through all of the insurers and plans on the market to determine which fits you the best. Our agents will find and present the best available options to you, combined with the advice that you can only get from an experienced, multinational insurance broker.

Our agents are available today to help you find the best possible group health insurance company. Contact us today for a plan comparison and free quote!

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.

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/

PP’s Neil Raymond featured in new IPMI interview

Globe to showcase IPMI

Over the past couple of years, Pacific Prime has been striving to launch an increasing number of beneficial reports on the International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) industry. Our latest report published in the summer of 2016, the 2016 Cost of Health Insurance Report, has enabled clients and industry professionals alike to gain greater understanding of the cost of health insurance around the world and the major contributors driving these prices.

One of the biggest findings from this report is the fact that the US is once again the highest cost location for international health insurance. While there are many factors that contribute to the high cost of medical insurance in the US, one thing we highlight in the report is the fact that the Affordable Care Act has had a huge influence on what you can expect to pay for insurance.

ACA and international coverage

Since its implementation in 2014 many international insurers have been working on getting plans launched that not only meet the strict ACA mandates but also provide both inbound and outbound American tax payers worldwide health coverage.

In early November, a new international health plan that provides international coverage while also being ACA compliant was launched from Cigna. We believe that this is the start of a new trend and as such have created a new ACA information portal. This portal is designed to provide both inbound and outbound taxpayers everything they need to know about the mandated health insurance coverage.

What are Pacific Prime’s thoughts on the ACA and the cost of health insurance?

In the insurance industry, the release of the cost of health insurance report and the introduction of ACA compliant plans for international expats and residents has created a number of talking points, especially around how these will impact one another.

To that end, Pacific Prime’s CEO and Founder Neil Raymond sat down with Global Health Insider for an exclusive interview on the topic. The interview, available to read now on their website, covers a wide variety of topics including:

  • The recent launching of an ACA-compliant international health insurance plan.
  • Key findings from our latest cost of health insurance report.
  • Dubai’s rise to prominence in the international health industry.
  • Important IPMI trends
  • And more.

Check out the interview now for an exclusive in-depth look in at international health insurance.  

Mosquito-Borne Diseases and Insurance

Moaquito representing mosquito-borne diseases

Recently, numerous diseases have been in the news in Asia. Of these, the most reported on all have one thing in common: They are transmitted by mosquitoes. From the scary new Zika virus that seems to be spreading to Asia rapidly from South America to the ever present Dengue fever, which appears to be on the rise in South East Asia, there are a number of diseases you could be exposed to while in the region.

Due to the seriousness of many of these diseases, according to publications including the Smithsonian, “The diseases that mosquitoes carry and transmit to people they bite kill 725,000.” This makes the mosquito the single most deadly animal in the world. Over the past few months, Pacific Prime’s offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and even the UAE have fielded a number of questions about mosquito-borne illnesses. To help we have created this short overview of the top five mosquito-borne diseases and insurance. 

Zika

Zika virus is arguably the most talked about disease in recent months; receiving press all around the globe and evidence that transmission is spreading in different countries. This virus, commonly referred to as Zika fever, was actually first discovered in 1947 in Africa, with the first major outbreak not happening until 2007. Despite the spread of the disease, it did not receive much coverage in the news until last year when an outbreak in Brazil was linked to microcephaly. While this has not been fully proven, the WHO notes that “Agencies investigating the Zika outbreaks are finding an increasing body of evidence about the link between Zika virus and microcephaly.”

To top it off, countries with a recorded Zika fever outbreak have also recorded a potential link between the fever and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) – a rare sickness where the body’s immune system attacks the nerve cells, causing weakness and sometime paralysis. As the CDC reports, “The Brazil Ministry of Health has reported an increased number of people who have been infected with Zika virus who also have GBS.”

While GBS and microcephaly are worrying, it is important to note here that the links between Zika fever and these illnesses are not fully understood. Many disease specialists are recommending care being taken should you live in a region where Zika is known the be present. This is especially true for pregnant women, as it is known that Zika can be transmitted from mother to fetus.

It is also important to know the signs and symptoms of Zika fever which include:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)

According to the WHO, “The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is not clear, but is likely to be a few days…These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2-7 days.” In other words, there is not a great chance that you will be hospitalized should you contract it.

Because of the fact that there is no known vaccine, it would be advisable to take precautions to prevent the disease. We cover the most common ones below, but it would also be a good idea to keep an eye on where the disease has been reported. While the outbreak is largely concentrated in South and Central America, there have been recorded outbreaks (in the past) and cases in South East Asia. Visit the CDC’s Areas with Zika page to learn more.

Dengue

While Zika virus is receiving a large amount of news coverage at the moment, there is a mosquito-born illness that many disease control experts would consider to be substantially larger: Dengue and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, or Severe Dengue.

Like Zika, Dengue is thought to have originated in Africa and remained mostly limited to the region until around World War II, when cases started to be recorded outside of Africa. Now, Dengue fever is considered to be endemic in over 100 countries – basically any tropical or subtropical location – which translates to about ⅓-½ of the world’s population being at risk, and it is on the rise. According to the WHO, “Cases across the Americas, South-East Asia and Western Pacific exceeded 1.2 million in 2008 and over 3 million in 2013.”

In recent months there has been news of an outbreak in Singapore (which Pacific Prime Singapore covered in a recent article), an increase in cases in Hong Kong, and even an ongoing outbreak in Hawaii that has caused the state to declare a state of emergency.

Due to the increasing number of cases, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of Dengue which include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Strong pain behind the eyes
  • Joint, muscle, and bone pain
  • Rash
  • Easy bleeding of gums and cuts

Unfortunately, like Zika fever, there is no approved vaccine for Dengue, but for most people the symptoms will be mild. Doctors will usually prescribe painkillers and rest, with recovery usually happening within a week. The problem with Dengue, however, is that a small percentage of cases where Dengue is more severe – an illness referred to as Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever.

As the CDC notes, “Dengue hemorrhagic fever is characterized by a fever that lasts from 2 to 7 days, with general signs and symptoms consistent with dengue fever. When the fever declines, symptoms including persistent vomiting, severe abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing may develop.” In some cases where care is not received in time, this can lead to circulatory failure and death. According to the WHO, “An estimated 500 000 people with severe dengue require hospitalization each year, a large proportion of who are children. About 2.5% of those affected die.”

Yellow fever

Much like the two disease above, Yellow fever is a serious mosquito-borne illness that is common in certain parts of the world. Unlike Dengue however, yellow fever is not as widely spread, only present in parts of Africa and South America. The WHO has found that, “There are an estimated 200,000 cases of yellow fever, causing 30,000 deaths worldwide each year, with 90% occurring in Africa.”

Unlike the two illnesses above, there actually is a vaccine for yellow fever which has proven to be incredibly successful. That being said, it is still a concern in some regions, so if you plan to travel to Africa or parts of South America you should be aware of the symptoms which are broken down into two stages.

Acute yellow fever symptoms which usually last 3-4 days include:

  • Fever
  • Backache
  • Headache
  • Shivers
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

Toxic yellow fever symptoms which become present usually 24 hours after the end of the first stage and include:

  • Return of the high fever
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal pain and vomiting
  • Bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes
  • Blood in body secretions including feces or vomit

If the toxic stage is reached around half of all patients will die within 14 days. This makes it a considerably more serious illness than some others, so it is important that you receive a yellow fever vaccine before visiting endemic countries (which can be found on the CDC’s yellow fever page)

Chikungunya

Chikungunya, like the other mosquito-borne illnesses in this article, was first discovered in Africa. Unlike yellow fever, however, this illness has become much more widespread, with local transmission recorded in Europe, the Americas (North, Central, and South), Asia, Africa, and the Pacific.

While not as common as Dengue, cases are still reported in various countries in the region. For example, Singapore confirmed 42 cases in 2015. This makes it an important disease to know the symptoms of. These symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

While similar in symptoms to dengue, Chikungunya is usually accompanied by more severe joint pain that, in some cases, can last weeks. Similar to the other diseases on this list, there is no known vaccine for Chikungunya, but as the WHO explains, “Serious complications are not common, but in older people, the disease can contribute to the cause of death. Often symptoms in infected individuals are mild and the infection may go unrecognized, or be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue occurs.”  

Malaria

Finally, we have malaria. The most widespread and studied of the mosquito-borne illnesses. Caused by the plasmodium, it is estimated that nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting malaria. According to the latest WHO estimates, released in December 2015, there were 214 million cases of malaria in 2015, and 438,000 deaths. While the number of cases has decreased nearly 37% between 2000 and 2015, it is still a serious disease.

Because it is present in much of Asia, Africa, and even Europe and the Americas, it could help to be aware of the symptoms of malaria which include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Vomiting

While not dangerous at first, if left untreated it could become severe malaria with symptoms that could include:

  • Seizures, coma, loss of consciousness
  • Anemia
  • Blood in the urine
  • Respiratory distress and troubles breathing
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Kidney failure
  • Cardiovascular collapse

Any of these symptoms are considered to be an extreme medical emergency, and will be treated as such. Luckily, many strains of malaria have been well studied and doctors are generally able to use anti-malarial drugs to cure most cases.

Preventing these diseases

The one key thing about the diseases included above is that they can all be prevented. While some, like yellow fever and malaria, have drugs or vaccines, others don’t, so it is best to take preventative measures which include:

  • Removing all standing water in and around your property
  • Wearing long pants and shirts and sunrise and sunset
  • Sleep under a mosquito net, or use air conditioning and closed windows
  • Use mosquito repellent on exposed skin and permethrin on clothes
  • Spray repellent around your house and windows, but never into the air conditioning or fan system, as this could blow the potentially harmful repellent into the room causing you to inhale it.
  • Follow the directions on the CDC or WHO websites for what to do if you are traveling to an area that has any of the diseases above.

Will health insurance cover these diseases?

With many of the diseases in this article, your insurance will cover it. Recovery in a short time is often possible, which means that visits to the doctor will not be overly costly and should be covered by your insurance. If there are complications, however, you may need to seek costly medical care. It would be beneficial to ensure that you have a plan with higher limits that can cover any potential care required from mosquito-borne illnesses. To learn more about your health insurance options, contact our experts.  

 

Transgender Health Care and Insurance

Across international news, we’ve been hearing the word ‘transgender’ a lot more. Some states in America are passing transgender bathroom bills to make public facilities more (or less) inclusive. The Amazon series Transparent picked up its first Golden Globe, and in March even Pope Francis set aside some time to meet with Diego Neria Lejárraga, a Catholic man rejected from his local church after sex reassignment surgery.

Transgender means a person’s gender expression doesn’t match their biological sex. Diego Neria Lejárraga (who, by the way, was welcomed into the Catholic church with open arms by Pope Francis) was born a woman. People who are transgender usually say that while growing up, they never identified with their sex, often experiencing a feeling of having been born into the wrong body. When the choice becomes available, many opt to take hormones or undergo sexual reassignment surgery in order to change their sex. The problem is, any reassignment surgery can be expensive. Many who turn to insurance for coverage may find some roadblocks.

Continue Reading…

Does Health Insurance Make You Live Longer?

health insurance
Intrinsically, the answer has to be no, doesn’t it? After all, our health is a result of countless factors ranging from our genetics, upbringing, lifestyle, environment and even geography. And it is health care, not health insurance, which has led to humans living longer, healthier lives over the past few centuries.

So it should seem fairly easy to determine that improved medical care and a more thorough understanding of how lifestyle choices affect our health are the primary factors in determining longevity. Continue Reading…

The Health Risks of Winter

Brace yourselves, winter is upon us! And with it’s inevitable drop in temperature comes an increase in risks to your health. In regions that experience proper seasonal weather (not you Sweden, or conversely Jamaica) there are typically twice as many deaths in winter as in summer. In the UK, for every degree the temperature drops below 18C, the death rate rises by 1.5%, and there were an estimated excess of 25,700 deaths during winter in the UK in 2010/11. America similarly had an excess of 95,000 deaths over the winter months compared with the rest of the year. The majority of these deaths are of seniors over 65, so old people, wrap yourselves up warm and be careful. Most deaths during this time (some 70%) are due to icy roads causing traffic accidents, but lets look at some of the health risks that come with mean ol’ Jack Frost.

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