3 challenges and 3 opportunities for international health insurance brokers in 2018

August 30, 2018

At the mid-point of 2018 we see health insurance brokers facing a range of challenges. In recent years the focus has moved away from health insurance as a service. Users and insurers are focusing more on the outcome, quality and value that health insurance provides to patients.

This switch in focus means external factors are having an increasing impact on the industry in its entirety:

The rapid pace of technological change in the last twenty years has vastly increased the amount of information consumers have access to. Fineos points out this is leading to a significant jump in the expectation of employers and employees when it comes to service around health insurance. 
The cost of healthcare is increasing globally. Taking OECD countries as an example, the cost of healthcare is rising 1-2% faster than GDP. Another concern for a global international health insurance broker is the inconsistencies in care around the world.
Over the last two years there have been several factors that have increased global political risk, impacting on health insurance brokers working on a global scale. The unpredictability of US policy change and the unknowns around the UK’s exit from the European Union may mean the road ahead is rocky for multinational businesses and their expat workforce alike. However, Marsh say this shouldn’t stop multinationals taking advantage of opportunities in politically unstable countries, once steps are taken to mitigate risk as much as possible.
It isn’t all doom and gloom however, there is plenty of opportunity for brokers, in the health insurance industry. Research from McKinsey & Company estimates health insurance revenue will double as an aging global population with growing incomes in the west protect themselves with private medical insurance. There are plenty of opportunities for international health insurance brokers in 2018:
How customers are using health insurance is changing. There are fewer claims for catastrophic events like outbreaks of disease or accidents as more customers are making claims caused by chronic conditions like heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. Although this has changed the nature of health insurance it also presents a chance for brokers to incorporate new technology into their business. Apps like MyHealth help users assess what the problem might be and help them make claims quickly.
If there are limitations in your existing markets or you feel they are becoming saturated, consider expanding to emerging markets like China, Russia and South America where more and more expatriates from around the world are located. Studies have also shown improved salaries for expats in these countries in 2018.
Building strong relationships is still key to successful insurance brokerage. However, Insurance and Risk say the method of building and maintaining these relationships is changing. Lunch with a potential client may not be possible anymore but they might be happy to have a Skype call or exchange InMails. Make everything you do as a broker customer-centred. Use industry and your own research to understand what your potential clients want from a broker and work towards providing it. A study by EY showed 90% of customers would be happy to engage more with their insurer. Don’t forget, a customer-centred focus is a long-term commitment, not a short-term project.
Finding the right international health insurance product for your clients can be complex. Let us help you cut through some of the intricacies and work with you to find the best match for your clients.