Benefits Key for Expats

By Andrew Rickard | November 09 2015 10:04AM

What do people consider before accepting jobs abroad? Recent research suggests the quality of both their benefits package and the local health care available are two very important factors.

A survey conducted for Cigna Global Health Benefits and the National Foreign Trade Council asked more than 2,700 expatriates in 156 countries about what they considered before accepting their current international assignments. Ranking items on a scale from 1 for “not at all important”  to 5 for “very important”, respondents top considerations were quality of life (4.35), assignment benefits package (4.35), professional development/job impact (4.28), quality of health care (4.23), family life status (4.22), and the financial impact (4.15).

The poll shows that workers are right to attach so much importance to health-related matters, since 79% of expats did end up accessing medical care while they were on assignment: 75% received routine medical care locally, 53% needed routine dental care, and 40% required serious medical care.

Survey respondents were also asked to rank their top health-related concerns while abroad, and the ability to access care services in any country came out on top with a 4.68 rating, followed by the ability to be evacuated in the event of an emergency medical situation (4.56) and a quick turnaround time on reimbursing claims that had been paid out of pocket (4.49).

When asked if there were aspects of their benefits packages that employers might change to make them more useful, employees often said that plan design could be more flexible.

“Global mobility directors have to be cognizant of striking a balance between the needs of the business and those of the expats and their families, says Leah Cotterill, vice president for North American client management at Cigna Global Health Benefits. “While the trend toward managing costs through benefits reduction might save companies money in the shorter term, the approach may not lead to longer term satisfaction, loyalty, trust or success.”