Taking a gamble on employees’ health in an organisation is no longer a trend. More and more companies, regardless of their size, are offering some kind of benefit or initiative focused on looking after their employees. And it's no wonder, as this is now the main way of attracting and retaining talent, improving productivity and the working environment, standing out from the competition and consolidating a people-centred corporate culture.
However, although there are many ways of looking after your staff and helping to improve their health, medical insurance is now one of the social benefits most frequently requested by employees, especially by those who are internationally mobile.
In many cases, this statement conceals a biased view that taking out a health insurance policy is an expense, which is not the case. Any action designed to improve employee health is always an investment for the future, leading to many tangible and intangible benefits, both for large companies and for smaller-sized entities. In fact, according to the European Network for Workplace Health Promotion1, every euro invested in health promotion programmes yields a return on investment of up to 6 euros in cost reduction for illness and up to 5 euros for a reduction in absenteeism from work.
In this sense, we need to consider the special importance of this service for expatriate employees, who are a key element in the international growth and success of a company. An expatriate with good medical cover will perform better at work, which is beneficial both to them and to the growth of the company.
Companies should be able to send their employees abroad with the same health conditions as in their country of origin, offering them comprehensive medical cover in the country of assignment, with access to all the services they require, centralised on a single medical contact.
What are the main benefits for an SME of providing health insurance to its expatriate employees?
Offering internationally mobile employees medical insurance has many advantages:
- Greater feeling of security for employees. With health insurance, employees have access to the insurer's global network of hospitals, clinics and medical specialists, as well as customer service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Compliant solution in place. With a health insurance, it is possible, on the one hand, to eliminate all the bureaucracy and comply all the health-related legal and statutory requirements, and, on the other, to have a single medical point of contact who can be contacted whenever required.
- Access to private healthcare. Having health insurance offers the possibility of treatment without long waiting lists, access to a wide range of medical services and cutting-edge treatments and the freedom to choose a specialist, giving employees health conditions that are similar to or better than those they have in their country of origin.
- Possibility of extension to family members. Most employees travel with their family, which is why this health insurance also offers the possibility of extending the cover to close relatives.
- Promotes health prevention, reducing costs arising from future clinical complications. Health insurers not only offer rapid, efficient medical care that helps to prevent future health complications, but they are also hugely committed to prevention and the promotion of healthy habits, offering information and practical resources so that insured parties can learn to look after their wellbeing. This leads to a better quality of life, a lower risk of suffering from illnesses of all kinds and, in the long term, a reduction in the costs arising from clinical complications.
- Increase in productivity. When employees’ health improves, so does company productivity. A healthy employee is happier, more invested in their job and, above all, more efficient.
- A tool for pay negotiation. Non-financial incentives such as this offer a much greater incentive than a specific amount of pay. When you are far from home, access to quality medical care is one of your main concerns.
- Better cover than if taken out individually. It must also be remembered that health insurance for employees offers more competitive premiums and cover than if taken out individually.
- Additional telehealth services provide key added value during a pandemic. Thanks to telehealth services and other virtual healthcare tools offered free of charge by insurers to insured parties, employees can access multiple medical resources, such as online medical consultations, without leaving the house. In the current context, this type of service provides genuine added value to employees, even more so if the medical care comes from the employee's country of origin.
- Favourable taxation. Private healthcare cover can be an attractive benefit for your employees and your business.
However, in addition to the advantages mentioned, there are other extra benefits that impact directly on the reputation and image of your company brand, helping it to grow and position itself. Take note!
- Increase in commitment and motivation. This type of benefit makes your employees feel valued, useful and looked after, which helps to create an emotional bond between workers and the company, strengthening their motivation and commitment. This is very important for employees involved in the company’s international strategy.
- Improves corporate reputation and brand image. A company that looks after its employees is recognised as a socially committed, advanced company, resulting in greater confidence from customers and excellent positioning as an employer brand.
- Key factor in attracting and retaining talent. Health-related social benefits are one of the pre-requisites that employees most value when deciding whether to stay in a company or choosing which company to work in2. This applies even more to relocated employees, which is why it is so important to offer them services such as medical insurance.
- Promoting work-life balance. With health insurance, you can choose the doctor, day and time of the consultation, making it easier to balance professional life with healthcare and personal life.
In terms of the cover that should be included, we recommend that employees who are working abroad should have access to primary healthcare and all medical specialisms, diagnostic tests, surgeries and hospital admissions. Health insurance should also cover repatriation.
Employees are a company's main asset and are crucial to the genuine success of an internationally growing SME. It is therefore vitally important that you offer them a secure, attractive place to work that will help them develop, both personally and professionally, and that you look after their health. We are going through a crucial period, in which employees need more support than ever before, especially if they are far from their home, family and friends. Why not offer them the security of having their health under control?
At Cigna, we want to be your partner in helping you to build a happy and healthy workforce because, wherever they are in the world, your people are the foundation of your business’ success. To learn more about health solutions, please visit our website.
1 Healthy Work - Healthy Lifestyle - Healthy Business. European Network for Workplace Health Promotion. Link
2 360º Wellbeing Survey 2018. Cigna. Link