Accessing good quality healthcare is a top concern for people working abroad according to new research from international private medical insurance provider, Expacare. A quarter (26%) of the business travellers questioned even admitted they could envisage giving up on their overseas dream and returning to the UK if they suffered ill health while overseas.

UK expats are used to the British healthcare system so it’s understandable that 20% believe comprehensive guidance on local healthcare is crucial when moving overseas – particularly given one in 10 (10%) admitted having little understanding about how health systems overseas operated. But the research also revealed an alarming knowledge gap regarding international private medical insurance with one in six (14%) of the sample thinking their travel insurance policy would provide sufficient health cover for a business placement overseas. Another third (34%) of the sample were unsure what cover they needed before heading abroad and 35% wanted more information about the options available.

Expacare has responded to this need for good quality healthcare and are introducing a new product this month to help the individual have confidence in their healthcare abroad. The new individual Choices product ensures international workers and their families are covered for medical treatment when abroad should they suffer an accident or illness. The benefits offered are flexible and include standard cover for medical evacuation and in-patient treatment with variable levels of out-patient treatment.  Policyholders can also elect to include additional modular benefits for cancer and chronic conditions, maternity cover and dental, wellness and optical options.

The international private medical insurance provider has also introduced “Lifestyle Rewards” which gives policyholders the opportunity to reduce their insurance premium as a reward for leading a healthy lifestyle. By not smoking, drinking responsibly and exercising regularly, individuals could receive up to a 25% discount.

Beverly Cook, Managing Director of Expacare, commented: “Our research reveals a lack of understanding among some overseas workers about how health systems work abroad. As well as doing the necessary research before they leave the UK, those working overseas can ensure they are prepared by having comprehensive health insurance in place to pay for any medical treatment, should they need it.

“It’s worrying that many people believe their travel insurance will cover any necessary medical treatment.  Sadly the reality is very different. If people do need to visit GPs or require cover for chronic conditions, they need to ensure they can afford this treatment. Having insurance in place gives people peace of mind and lets their focus be on getting the best treatment for either themselves or loved ones. We recognise that the individual could be putting themselves at risk by relying on travel insurance. Choices is designed to give the right coverage and also encourage a healthy lifestyle.”

The need for adequate research is key as many people (26%) purchase international health insurance individually and over a quarter (26%) choose to buy their insurance via the internet. Those aged 30-34 are most likely to go online to buy their overseas medical protection.

Expacare found that when consumers do decide to purchase international private medical insurance, most want a value for money (35%) product with a full range of benefits (32%). In particular those aged 45-54 want to ensure they have a full range of benefits when working abroad. Men (40%) are more likely than women (32%) to want value for money when it comes to choosing cover. Women however are more likely (21%) to choose a healthcare provider because of a good benefit provision being offered such as access to GP visits, medication and maternity cover.

Beverly Cook concluded: “As many people are buying insurance themselves, we recommend they thoroughly research the package they are purchasing to ensure it covers long-term needs. Our new product has been based on our popular Choices business cover and we are offering expats and their families the option of buying a comprehensive insurance package that offers quality coverage whilst being good value for money.”