Tools for understanding IPMI
When expatriates choose to protect their health in Asia, they are rarely familiar with complex local healthcare systems and insurance processes. Healthcare systems vary widely from country to country, and medical insurance is different to their home countries.
As an example, Hong Kong has a highly developed public healthcare system, which is available to any residents with a valid Hong Kong identity card, at very affordable costs. However, the public system is in high demand and can easily be overwhelmed, meaning private healthcare facilities are often the go-to alternative – especially for non-emergency treatment – but come with very high costs.
Similarly, Singapore’s public healthcare system benefits all its citizens and permanent residents at a low cost, but expatriates are not eligible for such rates and solely rely on private medical insurance.
It is an insurer’s responsibility to help customers understand these systems better and explain their options in terms of coverage. To do so, APRIL experts have worked on several tools (short videos, policy guides, processes) to help customers navigate their new healthcare environment and support them closely when the need arises.
Delivering a better healthcare experience
Facing a medical issue, especially when living in a foreign country, is often a stressful experience. The role of a healthcare insurance company is crucial in advising and supporting its insured members in such situations.
Most insurers provide this support by having multilingual advisors available around the clock, but also through the relationships that they maintain with hospitals and clinics to issue letters of guarantee, ensure close follow up of the insured during treatment, and monitor the costs of treatment to guarantee viable premiums.
While most insurers rely on third-party assistance providers, APRIL also has an in-house medical assistance platform that will support any member facing a medical emergency
To best support their members who are facing complex medical situations, insurance companies usually review their treatment plans before issuing guarantees of payment to the chosen medical facilities. For instance, APRIL International will review each scheduled hospitalisation and verify that the treatment is medically necessary, that it is the best treatment option for the member, and that the medical practitioner is the most suitable to perform this treatment. To do so, APRIL relies on an in-house medical team composed of eight licensed doctors and 10 nurses. These medical experts may suggest alternative treatments or second medical opinions when necessary, and negotiate treatment costs with medical facilities when they are above standard practice, to help guarantee sustainable premiums.
While most insurers rely on third-party assistance providers, APRIL also has an in-house medical assistance platform that will support any member facing a medical emergency. Supported by our team of medical experts, we will arrange the member’s transfer to the most suitable hospital nearby, or their evacuation or repatriation. Medical assistance benefits are of course a prerequisite for any private medical insurance provider.
The importance of having a strong healthcare network
Whether it is for a hospitalisation or a simple visit to the doctor, it can be difficult for an individual to find the right healthcare practitioner in a foreign country. One of the key benefits an international health insurer has to offer in this capacity is to provide a network of trusted healthcare practitioners that have been carefully selected according to the quality of care they may provide. Our partner selection protocol is managed by a body of doctors and healthcare network specialists: their strict accreditation process ensures that only trustworthy establishments that meet the highest quality standards can receive and treat our policyholders.
the role of insurers in Asia goes beyond just insurance: we are the insured’s point of contact during their expatriation and are present to help them navigate the local healthcare landscapes
Many clients come from European countries where they can access care with no cash advance and expect the same quality of service when they move to Asia. As an insurer, it is therefore crucial to offer them this same quality of service through a strong network of direct billing providers.
With more than 4,800 direct billing providers in Asia (and thousands more health professionals and facilities worldwide), our advisors can easily refer an insured person, make recommendations on where to go, and whether their treatment is covered by insurance.
In conclusion, the role of insurers in Asia goes beyond just insurance: we are the insured’s point of contact during their expatriation and are present to help them navigate the local healthcare landscapes. Transparency, communication, and guidance are required to properly respond to the policyholders’ needs, who eventually become our best advocates.