Cost-conscious customers compare prices in global recession

With the current economic crisis, individuals and companies with private healthcare policies are looking to reduce their costs by comparing healthcare policies on the market. Private healthcare is not seen as a luxury for many ex-pats working overseas, but a necessity. The current economic climate has therefore seen customers become more savvy in these cash-strapped times, in order to ensure they receive the best value on the market.

According to an online poll conducted by April International UK, 56 per cent of visitors to the site since December 2008, who were currently insured were looking for cheaper cover. The key reason cited for visiting the site was to compare prices with their current provider. This is a significant trend in the healthcare insurance market, as people being able to ‘shop around’ for the best deals on the market.

In addition, the type of policies being purchased reflects the changing nature of the global workforce. Unlike the recession in the early 90s, business today has become increasingly global in its outlook. Jobs are no longer limited by national boundaries and people continue to go wherever they can find work or wherever their company posts them. The fluidity this working model brings has changed the way in which employers can and do take on staff, too. Companies are no longer obliged, nor is it necessarily in their interests, to take on employees on a long-term basis and the idea of a career for life with one company certainly seems consigned to history for most of us. With the threat of recession now a reality in many countries, working patterns are likely to change.

People will still need to travel overseas for work, but they may no longer have healthcare as part of their package of benefits, particularly if they are working as contractors. With healthcare costs rising, it is vital that employees and contractors alike are properly insured, particularly those working in war reconstruction or mineral rich territories which may be far away from large centres of population.

A large number of April International UK’s individual policies are taken out by expatriates living on their savings and pensions in various parts of the world. With the poor rates of interest in current savings, many individuals want to ensure they retain great healthcare policies, but are looking to make savings where they can. With an uncertain future, these individuals need to ensure they are not wasting any money on unnecessarily high premiums.

In the past, as unemployment has risen in the UK, so often this has been accompanied by a rise in expatriates seeking work abroad. This time around, April International UK expects that pattern to repeat itself, with small numbers of specialist contractors looking to fills skills gaps in the now dominant manufacturing and related service industries of the Far and Middle East.

Commenting on the results, Debbie Purser, CEO, said: “It is clear that private healthcare customers are looking to find the most competitive rates on the market today. April International UK provides flexible and good value coverage and so we welcome this trend. April International UK has reacted to this new reality and staff groups as small as 3 can now take advantage of our world class healthcare insurance and secure significant premium discounts. This allows three, let’s say, IT contractors working together on a year-long project in Hong Kong to take out healthcare insurance together, giving considerable savings to the individuals but allowing them the same benefits as an individual policy.

Purser continued: “With most major global markets now feeling the effects of the credit crisis and a new working model that is likely to encourage increasing worker flexibility and contract opportunities, April International UK is adapting to the growth in this new type of specialist and flexible work force and expects its new, flexible group cover schemes to be popular in the years ahead as individuals become more fluid and less restricted in the way their work.