If we look across the pond to the USA, it is clear that Obamacare (or more formally known as the Affordable Care Act ‘ACA’) is likely to be reviewed. The original intention of the legislation was to extend medical insurance to the poorest people and force employers to ensure all their employees had a minimum level of medical insurance. This was to be policed through the social security system and mandatory reporting. Many of our UK and European clients have had no choice but to source insurance solutions from within the USA in order to comply. This is prohibitively expensive and increases the annual cost of an assignment.
We are anticipating that not much will change in the short term, but we remain close to the latest news. There is a hope that the regulations may be relaxed allowing employers to choose the cover they want to put in place and where it is sourced from. If this happens, then there is a genuine opportunity for employers to look for more affordable options, whilst still meeting their obligations.
As for business travel, we would suggest to all our clients that they undertake a regular review of their security arrangements. There is heightened sensitivity around travellers, particularly of Muslim faith or from Muslim dominated countries. It is always wise to ensure travellers are aware of the risks and that you know where they are when travelling.
If we switch our attention to Brexit then we believe that things will change much sooner. In the last few weeks the Government has announced that they will start to enforce their right to charge for non-emergency medical treatment here in the UK. This is a clear indication that we also expect our rights to ‘free’ or low-cost state medical treatment in Europe to reduce or be removed altogether as we exit the EU. Many believe that medical treatment in Europe is unlikely to be available free of charge as either a business traveller or expatriate in the future.
Travel insurance and international medical insurance will become an increasing necessity. We do not see this necessarily increasing costs for employers as there is plenty of competition. What we don’t know is whether the EU countries will start to mandate what kind of insurance people have and that’s a different ball game altogether!
For the latest information on developments in international healthcare, visit www.pshp.co.uk or call speak to a member of the Punter Southall Health & Protection team on 0203 327 5700.