International Benefit Challenges: Poll Results What benefits do you offer your assignees/expats? Although the overwhelming majority of respondents provide medical coverage to both long-term and short-term assignees, policies vary more when it comes to life insurance, disability, and pensions. What are the challenges you currently face? Top 5 challenges Compliance/local legislation affecting cover and plan requirements Mercer Marsh Benefits comments: We have seen an increasing introduction of local legislation requiring international assignees to have local recognized medical insurance. The reasons for this include reducing reliance on social security systems, or keeping income within that country by proving cover with local insurers, or both. We expect this approach to continue influencing both plan design and the insurers who can compliantly provide cover, which will come at a cost. The need for expert advice and guidance will rise. Rising premium costs The international medical insurers report average increases of 10-12%, which they base on the claims they experience across their portfolio of clients. Actual figures vary from country to country and even from city to city within a country. Rising costs are being driven by a number of factors such as more expensive medical treatments, new drugs, and limited hospital choice in developing locations. Managing the plan, reviewing and acting on claims statistics while working with insurers and advisors can limit these increases. Country-specific issues such as lack of providers or exclusions A strategy to localize international assignees or offer local benefits packages instead of traditional international plans is often limited where local policies are not available or are restrictive. We often work with clients to provide appropriate cover either via an international insurer or ensure that local plans are at the required level and will not jeopardize the health or treatment of an assignee. Duplication of cover Duplication of cover can cause confusion for an assignee and incur extra expense for a company. Often the reason for dual cover is due to local compliance needs. Where this is the case, we examine the ability of an insurer to be locally admitted or to link in with local insurers or social security systems. This can reduce overall costs and provide both companies and assignees with a clear pathway for medical treatment. Tax ineffectiveness to employer An international plan, while a necessity, can cause complications in terms of who is responsible for the cost of an assignee’s coverage. When premium payment occurs centrally with internal cross charging, there can be limited opportunity locally for a host employer to offset as a business expense. We often work with clients to review how premiums are paid and allow where possible for local payment.