How to Choose the Right Health Care Plans for international employees

Worker illness and injury costs employers an average of $1,700 per employee each year. But the benefits of a healthy workforce go beyond avoiding lost revenue. Healthy employees are an asset to their organizations in a variety of ways: they are more productive, take fewer sick days, and deliver higher quality work.

To nurture these benefits in the workplace, companies must ensure that they offer comprehensive healthcare coverage to all employees. Businesses with international employees can choose between two health care plans: local or global. Both are viable options for international companies; however, each plan has pros and cons that decision-makers need to consider before selecting the right one for their workforce.

Considerations for a Global Health Care Plan

A global health care plan offers coverage both locally and internationally. This type of plan is an ideal fit for organizations with entities all across the world, and employees who travel extensively between them. Essentially, global health care plans cover employees wherever they and their family members go.

From an employer’s perspective, it often makes sense to offer a global health care plan that covers all employees in the same manner, both domestically and internationally.

However, employers must consider the following questions before choosing a global health care coverage plan:

  • Does the plan cover repatriation for medical reasons?
  • Does the plan cover evacuation costs for an employee requesting treatment from a medical facility with better resources?
  • Are all costs paid at the time of care, or is the insurance company billed directly?
  • Does the insured employee have a dedicated point of contact at the insurer?
  • Can they select medical care in their country of origin?
  • Can they choose a doctor that speaks their native language?

If a workforce is consistently on the move, a global plan is the best option for employees who work frequently in different countries. However, some international workers do not need the level of flexibility that global health care plans provide.

Considerations for a Local Health Care Plan

Local health care plans are another option for employers, and they are advantageous in several ways. A local policy covers an employee (and their family) based in the country where they work. While these plans vary, the most common types include:

  • Free state health coverage (available in the U.K. and Spain, among others)
  • State health insurance providers (standard in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands)
  • Private health insurance providers, which offer shorter wait times and access to local, private facilities

Local plans are not as flexible as global healthcare plans, but they often provide better coverage. For example, things like pre- and post-natal care, IVF treatment, dental coverage, in-patient treatment, and even cancer treatment, are generally covered more extensively under a local plan compared to a global healthcare plan.

Additionally, local doctors often do not support many global health care plans in their systems, making it impossible to bill through an insurance company directly. This flaw in the system forces the employee to cover costs and file a claim later through their insurance company. Employees using global health care plans with local providers experience not only significant delays in critical care, but also the financial burden of paying for healthcare treatments upfront.

Unlike global plans, local plans do not cover international employees outside of their home market, which is problematic for employees who need to travel between international and domestic offices. Moreover, if an employee develops a pre-existing medical condition under local coverage, they may face coverage challenges if they relocate to a new country.

Ensure Proper Health Care Coverage for Your Global Team

Many organizations favor global health care plans because they perceive them as easier to set up and maintain. However, as the global workforce continues to change, that is not necessarily true.

When you partner with a global expansion expert like Velocity Global, you have access to expertise that enables you to select the right coverage for international employees. Additionally, our team of experts helps you navigate country-specific employment legislation, ensuring your benefits offerings meet these requirements.

Want to learn more about how to navigate the decision between local and global health care plans? Reach out to us today.

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