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Stuart Lauchlan

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Cancer care not on the priority list for employer-funded overseas health schemes


Working overseas can leave staff vulnerable as employers cut corners on health cover, with over a quarter (23%) of employers wanting to provide international health insurance to staff, but simply can’t afford to.

According to the “Anatomy of an international business” report by Expacare, one third of employers (33%) consider international health insurance for staff as a personal choice for employees.

That said, more than a quarter (28%) of employers’ view international health insurance as essential for any staff working abroad.

Employers are in fact aware of the elements they consider most important on an international healthcare plan.
  • A fifth think having cancer cover (20%) is one of the most important parts of a policy for their staff.
  • Nearly two-fifths believe medical evacuation (39%) is crucial.
  • A quarter value a 24-hour medical helpline (26%)
  • Just over a quarter want their staff to have a choice of medical facilities and doctors (27%).
But they also know what they regard as less important: 
  • Only one in ten considers palliative cancer care cover as important (12%).
  • Desppite this a high number of employers (20%) cite cancer cover as essential.
  • Only a fifth (20%) think that cover for acute episodes of a chronic condition should be covered, which can often prove very costly.
The most concerning finding is that 16% think travel insurance covers their staff’s health needs overseas. Meanwhile, a further one in ten (10%) employers believes that when operating in the EU there is no need for health insurance.
“The research shows a lack of understanding amongst employers of how best to care for their staff working internationally" said Beverly Cook, Managing Director of Expacare. "Due to costs, some employers are simply not offering international health insurance to employees working abroad. Meanwhile others risk omitting some crucial elements from the cover. 
“In addition, while many have good intentions, we were shocked to see that so many believe travel insurance would cover all healthcare needs. I cannot stress enough how valuable it is for employers to research the country they are sending their employees to and understand the risks. Often businesses will take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to their policy, but this can mean cover is often lacking just where it is most needed.”

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