With the amount of different health insurance plans and companies on the market these days, the difference between a good quality plan and a great one can no longer be determined simply by a list of basic benefits. To ensure their plans have an edge and remain competitive in the market, many insurers today are strengthening their customer service and offering higher levels of added-value support. One of the leaders in this particular field is Bupa International.
Bupa International have recently improved the majority of their services to enhance their members' healthcare plans. These can be found on Bupa's 'Member's World', an online facility created by Bupa so that live information can be provided for clients regarding their policy. Not only does the site give clients the status of their personal plan, such as claims assistance and access to the relevant documentation, but it also provides a Second Opinion service though Advance Medical, as well as Moving Abroad guides to living as an expat.
The Second Opinion service is particularly helpful for Pacific Prime clients as it allows them to remotely access expert, independent medical opinions if they feel it is necessary, or if they do not fully understand the initial diagnosis given by their local doctor.
If clients wish to make use of this service, they just need to access their Member's World portal and upload the diagnostic reports they have been given. After uploading these onto the website, they are then viewed by a clinical committee and if needed, the case will be evaluated and reviewed by medical experts from USA, German,UK,Spain,Switzerland and France, among other countries. Once the review is complete, the client will be sent a report that answers the following questions:
- What does the diagnosis mean?
- Is the diagnosis correct?
- Is the proposed treatment correct?
- Is there more information available about the condition?
- Is there an alternative treatment that would be more suitable?
An interesting Case study for the Second Opinion service is regarding an insured member who had already had surgery twice for chronic Lumbosciatalgia (severe back pain) to no avail. Their doctor suggested that a third try at surgery might be able to return a positive result. Deciding to contact Advance Medical for a second opinion before going in for the surgery, the patient's case was forwarded to two separate orthopaedic experts, one located in the USA and the other in France. Each expert separately and independently warned against the third surgery and both suggested a more basic approach to the problem, recommending lifestyle changes and specific exercise while supervised by a physiotherapist, as well as only taking pain relieving medication specifically for the condition when needed. This resulted in the patient being able to return to their daily life faster and with more ease than if they had the third surgery.
Always keeping the clients best interest at heart, Bupa outsource this Second Opinion service through a company called Advance Medical. Though seemingly unlike Bupa to outsource any of their client servicing, having a separate, completely impartial medical opinion means that the client can rest assured that any treatment suggestion made is not biased, thereby eliminating any possible worries that the suggestion may be made purely from a financial stand point. By offering this service, Bupa completely remove themselves from any part of the medical suggestion and encourage the international experts to suggest whichever treatment would be best for the patient, regardless of cost. By offering a completely impartial support network that provides round the clock free advice, Bupa is able to bring incredible relief for its expatriate clients, especially as it can often be a daunting experience to be hospitalised in a foreign country.
In many of the major expatriate-hub cities, where overwhelmingly high costs for both medical insurance and treatment alike are often present, along with an ever-growing choice of different insurance companies and plans becoming available, over-utilization fraud can commonly occur. This phenomenon involves doctors prescribing any treatment or surgery that may not actually be completely medically necessary, often as a way for the doctors or facilities to increase their revenue. By allowing clients to take advantage of Advance Medicals network of over 5,000 International physicians that provide unbiased and impartial opinions, Bupa is undoubtedly demonstrating their commitment to their clients living abroad.
This commitment is further proved by an array of expat guides that Bupa have made available on Members world for many cities around the world, namely the major expatriate-hubs such as Hong Kong,Dubai and Singapore. These guides provide clients with important tips and facts that are needed when living aborad, often including useful information that is not even medically related or insurance based, such as tax rules and advice about different international schools for expatriate families.
This kind of advice is essential as according to a recent study done by International relocation specialists, Bossom consulting, nearly 40% of expats are on assignment for 2 - 3 years, and nearly 30% are on assignment for 3-5 years. With this modern globalisation correlating with the numbers of expatriates, insurance providers need to take a more integrated approach to looking after their clients while on foreign assignment and turn their focus towards not only the clients' immediate health, but all aspects of life.
This holistic approach to helping clients while living abroad as expatriates has been a key factor in Bupa's success as clients clearly want to have more offered to them other than just coverage for medical treatment. It is becoming essential that insurance companies make their clients feel secure and safe whilst living in a foreign country to not only attract new clients, but to also maximise retention of their existing policyholders.