Traffic accidents threat to expats

Road accidents are one of the major risks for expats abroad and significantly impact on general expat health, being one of the top five causes of medical evacuations. According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) study, 1.24 million people were killed on the world’s roads in 2010 writes

The Global status report on road safety 2013 presents information on road safety in 182 countries, accounting for 99% of the world’s population. Road accidents are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 globally.

Middle-income countries have been hardest hit by rising road traffic accidents, these are emerging nations such as the BRICs and several Asian countries.

In these developing countries rapid access to healthcare can be a challenge. Something expats need to consider when choosing an international health insurance policy is whether they have medical evacuation included.

The study found only 28 countries, equating to 7 percent of the global population, have laws on five key risk factors: drink-driving, speeding, use of crash helmets, seatbelts and child restraints. However, enforcement of these rules, even in countries with existing legislation, is inadequate.

Health insurance for expatriates is a complicated industry, one which is constantly shifting. In Europe the impact of the economic crisis on health services has meant several countries have restricted access to expats and business travellers.

This comes at a time when business travel is increasing, despite persistent financial woes across much of the developed world. According to data from Euromonitor International, business travel has been steadily increasing to 212 million international arrivals in 2012.

With this increase in business travel, the constantly changing landscape of international health insurance and many countries tightening healthcare rules for expats, companies need to ensure they provide emergency evacuation coverage as part of their employee medical insurance package.

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Fair people risk skin cancer by thinking their skin is darker

One of the benefits of expat life is improved weather, especially for northern Europeans. We all know a little sunshine is good for us, and even recommended. However, many people are still unaware of the risks they are taking in the sun writes

A recent survey shows that while many Europeans have traditionally fair skin, nearly half (48%) think their skin is darker than it is in reality. This could mean people don’t appreciate the damage they are doing when exposing their skin to the sun, especially in countries where it tends to be stronger.

With public awareness of skin cancer at an all time high, why are skin cancer rates still growing? One reason may be related to how we see our skin, thinking it’s darker than it is causes us to stay in the sun longer than we should.

The survey also discovered the desire for a tan is increasing, with 62 percent of people questioned revealing they think a tan is attractive, up from 56 percent five years ago. Over three quarters (80%) of us never check for signs of skin cancer, with a shocking 69 percent admitting they didn’t know what to look for.

What to look out for

Many of us have dark patches or raised moles on our skin, while these usually remain harmless it is important to recognise any changes.

Cancer Research UK recommends checking moles following the ABCD rule. If you notice any of these signs then see your doctor:

  • Asymmetry – the two halves of your mole don’t look the same
  • Border – the edges of the mole are irregular
  • Colour – your moles isn’t all the same colour, with more than one shade.
  • Diameter – your mole is more than 6mm wide.

You should also look out for a new growth or sore that won’t heal; a spot, mole or sore that itches or hurts; and a mole or growth that bleeds, crusts or scabs.

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What health benefits should expat workers expect to receive?

When moving abroad expats are confronted with all manner of things, one of which is ensuring they have some form of health insurance. For expatriate workers companies will often provide benefits, including international health insurance.

Employee Benefits has compiled some important information concerning common health benefits offered to expats to give you an idea of what to expect. The recent survey of 376 HR and benefits professionals revealed the most frequently offered health benefit is private medical insurance (PMI), offered in 33% of cases.

The research also discovered that international employees are often offered life assurance/death in service benefits too (28%), as well as PMI for employees’ dependants (27%) and employee assistance programmes (22%).

Employee benefits organised the survey so that the overall use of expatriate healthcare benefits was reviewed across the entire sample of respondents. This is displayed in the table below, taken from Employee Benefits’ original report.

Referring to PMI’s position as the primary health benefit for expats, this comes as no surprise because many countries do not have an equivalent to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), and so expats require comprehensive insurance to cover any medical bills.

In addition, the survey compared this year’s results with those gathered in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Between 2011 and 2012, the percentage of respondents offering PMI for expat employees dropped from 83% to 70%, having increased from 76% to 83% between 2010 and 2011. Furthermore, the number of companies with no offer of health benefits doubled between 2011 and 2012 from 6% to 12%, but this percentage has fallen to 9% over the course of the past year.

 The comparison conveys a considerable change, with more companies reducing the benefits they do offer, possibly in order to adapt to the current economic situation. Further illustrated by the survey, which found 78% of companies say cost is a factor in which benefits they buy or continue to offer to employees abroad.

An important point worth noting is that expatriate PMI will allow those expats who are not offered the level of medical service overseas they are used to receiving at home to seek care in other countries or return home for treatment.

In light of the research, it is positive to see the variety of health benefits frequently offered to overseas employees. Currently, with many countries cutting or restricting expat access to healthcare, companies are under more pressure to provide expat health benefits to ensure that their foreign workforce is fully covered. Cutting out benefits entirely is not really an option if an organisation wishes to remain an attractive employer and to be seen as providing duty of care.

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