International schools in Asia are far more than businesses; they play a vital role in the expatriate community. If it were not for the presence of international schools, the number of expats in Asia would be vastly reduced – in fact there would hardly be a community at all.
For most families, the thought of sending their children away to boarding school in their home countries for long periods of the year is unacceptable in itself, let alone the cost involved in boarding school fees and flights. International schools help to create a successful expat system around the world.
At Asia Health, most of us are expats ourselves and we appreciate international schools for the role they play. Our ties with many international schools in the region run deep; our children are educated in their classrooms and our consultants provide free financial education seminars for students and advice on education fee planning for parents. We have also developed highly successful professional partnerships with schools, advising and sourcing the best possible group benefit packages to provide protection and security for their staff.
Our experience of working with schools has taught us that an appealing benefits package can attract the best quality teachers and retain them for longer.
We also understand the need to find the right benefits at the best possible price. As a company, our pledge to schools includes sourcing and negotiating the right benefit solutions to meet the needs of each individual school. Whether a school is looking for group life insurance, staff medical cover or establishing a pension scheme, as an independent international broker, we have access to a vast array of internationally recognised providers and work hard to source the most cost effective solutions for every school we work with.
Once a school has chosen a package, we work closely with the provider, the school administration and teaching staff to ensure that the scheme is properly set up and everyone involved understands how it works.
Providing benefit packages for international schools can be complicated. Schools across Asia must take into account different national legislation and most employ overseas staff from multiple countries. At Asia Health, we are experienced in untangling the complexities and providing sensible, straightforward, flexible and portable solutions to suit the requirements of any school.
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. Asia Health 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.
The type of plan
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.
Pre-existing medical conditions
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.
Level of Cover and Upgrades
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.
Emergency evacuation cover
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.
Online outpatient claims
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. Asia Health 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, Asia Health 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.