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In the first post in our series on group benefit plans for international schools, we looked at why it was important for schools to get the best value and service when they look at a staff benefits packages. In today’s post we take a look at health insurance plans for international schools and some of the things decision makers should consider.
International schools that provide a good healthcare scheme give their staff the confidence that they will receive top quality medical care and this, in turn, helps attract and retain high calibre teachers. Within Asia healthcare can be expensive and often a good health insurance plan is the only practical way to provide staff access to quality medical care and still keep close control over costs.
However, for head teachers and school administrators without experience in group healthcare, the many choices and terms and conditions can seem bewildering. Infinity has considerable experience in arranging health insurance plans for international schools across Asia and we hope the points discussed below will help clarify some of the available options.
There are two types of group health insurance plans applicable to international schools:
A community plan is normally best suited to smaller schools where less than 100 people are covered. The school’s plan is pooled with other similar group insurance issued by the same provider. This spreads the risk over a greater number of people and helps keep premiums down. Premiums for individuals within community plans are calculated on age and discounted according to the size of the group.
Experienced rated plans are suitable for larger schools and premiums are generally based on the history of claims in previous years. In most cases premiums for individuals within an experienced rated plan are flat rated – in other words the premium is the same for all members of the group.
The term for the cover of pre-existing conditions is Medical History Disregarded (MHD). This is an important aspect of group health insurance plans, as without MHD cover members of staff who have prior medical conditions will not receive benefits related to prior health problems. In the vast majority of cases international schools are able to obtain insurance with MHD terms.
This is the ability to transfer from the school group scheme to an individual policy. Most providers offer this option if teachers remain expatriates; however many also have certain restrictions as well.
Some schools take the decision to limit staff health cover to the main essential benefits. However, individual members of the scheme may be interested in additional cover, for example dental or maternity cover. It is possible to arrange a two-tier system which provides a standard level of cover provided by the school and an upgrade to those teachers who are willing to pay extra for the extra benefits.
If a school only wants to offer a local plan then it is possible to introduce an optional upgrade that provides staff with an international in-patient only plan with higher benefits and limits than a local plan.
The availability of emergency evacuation cover is a crucial difference between local and international group insurance plans. Many schools choose an international plan because it enables emergency cover to be given to members of staff and their dependants who may be travelling in remote areas. Evacuation cover provides the necessary emergency assistance to get them the required level of care.
Choosing a policy with an online outpatient claims facility can significantly reduce the administration time for a school when it comes to claims processing.
This is occasionally required for schools on experience rated plans where high claims experience may cause premiums to rise on an annual basis. Infinity has experience in helping schools put cost containment measures in place without compromising essential cover.
When it comes to helping international schools finding the right health insurance plan for their staff, Infinity has a wealth of experience. As a leading broker in Asia we maintain relationships with the major international insurers and as a wholly independent adviser we are not tied to any provider. We can therefore search the market to find and help you negotiate the best possible deal. We also offer a pre and post-sales backup service that is second-to-none in the region.
If you would like to look at health insurance options for your school please get in touch.